Today’s analysis presents an opposition view of HR 2012, the proposed federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act. Next Friday (11/29/13), a proponent view of HR 2012 will be provided.


Proponents of federal regulation of horse racing have a salient point about the inconsistency of medication rules and enforcement across the various state jurisdictions. But does that mean they really want to have the sport/industry regulated by the same federal government whose collection of “Greatest Hits” is currently featuring the nearly 11,000 page Affordable Care Act and the bungled rollout of its website?

Government agencies such as the Securities & Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission spend huge sums of money on curbing illegal insider trading and deceptive business practices, respectively, but have the resources only to deal with the most egregious cases. The federal government’s most effective operation is the military. While it is effective it is not efficient. The USA has the best fighting capabilities in the world largely because it outspends everyone else but, as anyone who has been in the military can verify, much of the spending is wasted.

Were the federal government to become involved in establishing and enforcing rules for medication in horse racing, it (i.e., the taxpayer) would almost certainly not pick up the tab. Instead, the money necessary to run a bureaucracy would come from an additional tax imposed on pari-mutuel wagering, which would make the takeout more punitive than it already is. And, if history is a reliable guide, the bureaucracy needed to police the racing industry would become increasingly cumbersome, thereby requiring more and more money.

Congress would designate the independent and non-profit U. S. Anti-Doping Agency to supervise any federal laws pertaining to medication in horse racing. Yet, to my knowledge, there is no compelling evidence that the U. S. Anti-Doping Agency has been any better at eradicating drugs (from Olympic competition) than the present-day state organizations that regulate horse racing.

The federal government has a vital role to play in overseeing important functions like the administration of food and drugs, environmental protection, and monetary policy. However, the majority of legal and regulatory matters are best left to the states. Horse racing does not qualify as being so critical to the nation’s health, safety, and welfare to warrant federal oversight.

Be careful what you wish for in the way of federal regulation of anything, and there is a plethora of proof for this assertion. What starts out as a well-intentioned initiative often ends up having unintended outcomes.

Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business


  1. Looking forward, Bill, to seeing what you say next week about the other side of the issue. Very intriguing points. I can’t make up my mind how I feel about the feds getting involved.

  2. Will you reveal how you come down on the bill in congress after your next post?

  3. Bill Shanklin says


    Wait until you read my analysis next Friday in favor of federal regulation, which I’ve already written. My readers are intelligent and I try to present the pros and cons, as I see them, and let readers make up their own minds.

  4. Bill Phillips says

    Always read your analysis in BloodHorse thought I would check out your website commentary. Interesting and I will return to become better educated about the “horse racing business.”