National Racing Compact


About the National Racing Compact


For much of the 1960s, the subject of a universal license was discussed nearly every time industry leaders met. Finally in 1969, Harry J. Farnham of Nebraska, the newly elected President of the National Association of State Racing Commissioners, the predecessor organization of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI), named Kentucky Commissioner J. Stan Friedberg to head a committee to develop a license for racing participants that would enable each licensee to go from one jurisdiction to another without being re-licensed and re-fingerprinted. Mr. Farnham and Mr. Friedberg attempted to develop a uniform application and uniform license. The main barrier was and during the past 30 years has been the inability of racing commissioners and staff from one jurisdiction to discuss criminal history information with their counterparts in another jurisdiction. Over the years a national license has continued to be discussed by many industry leaders but has never become a reality.

RCI President R. Anthony Chamblin led the effort to gain the government's blessing as a clearing house for CHRI requests in 1988. In 1998, the association made the multi-jurisdictional application available to owners following a two-year development effort led by Joe Gorajec, executive director of the Indiana Racing Commission, and Frank Zanzuccki, executive director of the New Jersey Racing Commission.

In 1999, Robin Traywick Williams, Chairman of the Virginia Racing Commission, accepted the responsibility for finding the solution to the legal barriers which had kept the national license from becoming a reality. She thought an interstate compact might be the vehicle to solve the criminal history information problem. She enlisted the support of U.S. Senator John Warner of Virginia who paved the way for meetings with representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Through that effort it was determined that an interstate governmental entity could be authorized by the individual states to review criminal history information on behalf of all participating states and then issue a national license.

Joseph A. De Francis, Chairman and CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club, became interested in the project and offered the services of his Virginia counsel, H. Lane Kneedler, to assist with the development of the compact.

Once the compact language was drafted, meetings were held involving interested state racing commissioners and representatives of the Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association, National Thoroughbred Association, American Quarter Horse Association, United States Trotting Association, Jockeys Guild, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and other industry leaders. The result was unanimous support for moving ahead to develop the national licensing program.

The national racing license builds on two incremental improvements to the licensing process that were previously developed by RCI:
  • 1. Federal approval to submit fingerprint cards and requests for criminal history records information (CHRI) to the FBI
  • 2. The availability of a uniform multi-jurisdictional license application form accepted in virtually all racing jurisdictions in the U.S.
The compact was officially established early in 2000 when five states received authorization to enter into the interstate compact. The initial compact members are the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, the Louisiana State Racing Commission, the Virginia Racing Commission and the West Virginia Racing Commission.

The Kentucky Racing Commission, Nebraska Racing Commission, and Washington Racing Commission joined the Compact in Spring, 2001. California and New York joined the Compact before the end of 2001.

Membership in the National Racing Compact is open to all racing states that pass the model legislation. By the end of 2001 ten states had passed the necessary legislation to join the Compact Committee. Non-member states have the option of recognizing the national license, potentially extending the acceptability of license to most states in a short time.