HISA sends out state assessments for $72.5M budget for 2023

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Oct. 21, 2022

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority on Oct. 17 issued 2023 assessments to state racing commissions in the United States that reflect a total budget of $72.5 million for its Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program and Racetrack Safety Program.

The ADMC Program begins Jan. 1, 2023. The Racetrack Safety Program began July 1 and will have its first full year in 2023. HISA said each state racing commission received an assessment that represents the respective state’s total financial obligation for 2023 as outlined by the authority’s cost assessment methodology rule, which was approved by the Federal Trade Commission as part of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020.

HISA indicated racing regulatory agencies can reduce assessments if they enter into an agreement with HISA and the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit, which falls under Drug Free Sport International. HISA has offered racing regulatory agencies approximately $23 million in monetary credits against the assessment should they choose to provide sample collection personnel and investigative services—including stewards involved in investigations—in compliance with the ADMC Program rules.

In addition, the agencies and commissions are no longer responsible for individually paying for investigations, laboratory fees and shipping costs, or any legal expenses associated with prosecuting anti-doping and medication control violations or appeals of those prosecutions, as they will be provided for by HISA, HIWU and the FTC. HISA said the industry “will also benefit from further cost reductions in existing and new expenses related to anti-doping and medication control because of economies of scale in contracting costs and other economic efficiencies” created through a national program.

“Although the full incremental cost to industry is difficult to calculate with certainty, between the offered credits and relief from existing expenses, it is significantly lower than the official budget indicates,” HISA said in a release.

The main components of the budgets (pre-credit reductions) are:

  • The ADMC Program that will be administered nationally by HIWU: $58.1 million, which is inclusive of all sample collection, laboratory analysis, enforcement, and other program costs.
  • Racetrack Safety Program: $3.65 million.
  • A technology build and related maintenance to support programs: $5.46 million.
  • Costs associated with HISA administration and organizational operations: $5.27 million, of which $1.8 million is budgeted for defending against litigation challenging HISA.

“The 2023 assessment balances HISA’s commitment to cost efficiency with the fact that the industry has historically underinvested in safety and integrity,” HISA Chief Executive Officer Lisa Lazarus said. “We are focused on leveraging existing state resources for anti-doping as the foundation on which to build a first-class program for the sport. Under HISA and HIWU, Thoroughbred racing, for the first time, will have uniform national standards and rules for safety and medication, more comprehensive forensic testing, expanded and targeted out-of-competition testing, a highly qualified national investigative team, and a streamlined and efficient adjudication process.”

Should a racing regulatory agency opt out of paying collecting and remitting assessments—such was the case in many states with the 2022 Racetrack Safety Program—the covered racetracks in the state are responsible for collecting fees to pay the HISA assessment. If a commission or agency does not enter into an agreement with HISA and HIWU, it becomes HIWU’s responsibility to assume all sample collection responsibilities in that state.

The deadline to advise HISA whether a state will opt in on the financial assessment is Nov. 16.

“We will approach the deployment of the AMDC Program with the appropriate fiscal conservatism and any overall budget surplus remaining at the end of the calendar year will be rolled over as a credit for 2024,” Lazarus said in a letter to state racing regulatory agencies. “In addition, HISA is seeking funding sources outside of the industry with the goal of easing in the industry’s burden in future years.”

Ed Martin, President of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, said in a release that based on  information he has received from racing commissions and related agencies, he expects many to not opt in for 2023, as was the case with the 2022 Racetrack Safety Program.

“Most states did not pay the HISA assessment that was sent in April, and given the limitations of state resources it is unrealistic to expect a different result as I am not aware of any states that have told them otherwise,” he said.