01/23/2013 02:02 pm ET Updated Mar 25, 2013

Lasix, Regional VLT's, Bet Rebates, Upping the Legal Age

Just three weeks into New York's 2013 legislative session, four bills have been introduced that if they become law could significantly change New York's horse racing industry.


A bill that would ban the use of Lasix in race horses has been introduced in the New York State Senate and referred to its Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. State Senator Adriano Espaillat is sponsoring S835-2013, an act to amend the racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law, in relation to prohibiting the use of performance-enhancing drugs in horseracing. Espaillat's district runs from Inwood, down the west side of Manhattan to Hell's Kitchen, he is not a member of the Senate's racing committee.

In the memorandum accompanying S835-2013, the purpose of the bill is:

To prohibit the use of any performance enhancing drug, including LASIX, on horses that participate in horseracing in the State of New York.

The lines are drawn

The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NYTHA), made up of Thoroughbred trainers and owners, will likely be foremost among groups and individuals opposing any ban of Lasix. In a letter to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board in May 2012, NYTHA said, "We firmly believe that Lasix, strictly regulated, should be the only permitted raceday medication. A ban on Lasix will not address any of the problems faced by horse racing."

The Jockey Club, the national breed registry and support organization for Thoroughbred breeding and racing, supports individual states in their efforts to ban all race day medications, including Lasix. Stuart S. Janney III, chairman of the Jockey Club's Thoroughbred Safety Committee, maintains that, "The Jockey Club's oft-stated perspective on race-day medication hasn't changed and will not change. Fundamentally, we believe that horses should run only when free from the influence of medication."

VLT's in Nassau County?

Hempstead Assemblywoman Earlene Cooper introduced Assembly bill A01899, an act to amend the tax law and the racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law, in relation to authorizing the Division of the Lottery to conduct the operation of video lottery wagering at regional off-track betting facilities. Specifically, this would be a "pilot" program that would bring VLT's to the Nassau County OTB's Race Palace Teletheater in Plainview, NY.

Currently, there is a VLT racino on the grounds of Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park, about 28 miles from Plainview. The bill has been referred to the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee.

Will there be coupons?

Senate bill S02433 authorizes racetracks and off-track betting corporations to offer rebates on pari-mutuel wagers made by bettors to reward horse racing patrons for their participation at race meetings. Introduced by Senator Jeff Klein, who represents parts of the Bronx and southern Westchester County, the bill has been referred to the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. Similar legislation was introduced in the Assembly last year by Racing and Wagering Committee Chair Gary Pretlow, passed by the Assembly and referred to the Senate.

What's left for an 18-year-old to do?

Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee member Phillip Goldfeder, Queens, introduced A02082, an act to amend the racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law and the tax law, in relation to prohibiting individuals under the age of twenty-one from gambling. The bill-memo's Justification says:

According to the NYS Council on Problem Gambling, 10 percent of adolescents in NYS (approximately 140,000) have experienced problems due to their gambling, and 2856 of these adolescents who experienced problem gambling in the past may also be in need of treatment for chemical dependency. The organization Youth Gambling International found that young adults, from 18 to 21, are three times more likely to have problems associated with gambling.