Session 5 (Power and Influence) got under way just before 3pm and Jim Prescott from Prescott Group LLC joined us to discuss public affairs and their potential impact on your business. For this session we had a panel consisting of Lisa Jane Graffard and Bill Lear, Chairman Emeritus of Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC, One of the main points that he raised is that we are in a climate of opposition whereby we can face opposition to our activities from a variety of angles and this le don to the question, “What opposition do you face?”, to which both Kate Hardy and Darren Fox responded simultaneously with “PETA”, reminding us of the challenges that our industry faces from such organisations that could possibly destroy it.
Jim continued by discussing public consent. With our industry and in particular, the racing side being one that is to the fore in regard to having some public consent that allows it to continue, it is in a venerable state whereby it’s future has the potential to be determined by people who have no involvement in it. Consequentially, it is up to us to be proactive in changing the public perception that has come out of controversy on our racetracks. Jim added that no one is going to stand up on our behalf and defend us.
Discussion with our panel begun with the issue of lobbyists and Jim stressed the value of hiring professionals to help and strengthen the cause. Bill expressed the value of building relationships with the representative bodies.
Lisa Jane joined the discussions, asking if there was big differences between
Conor Foley questioned who is responsible for impacts here when industries like Illinois are torn apart to which he responded that we the active participants are. He recounted as so many of us have that horses are in our DNA, but it’s declining in almost every jurisdiction other than Hong Kong. He added that it is the same sport as it was 40 years ago, and there are challenges that we haven’t overcome and one of which is the failure to make advances in the gaming that we provide to the public. Lisa ended that part of the discussion, stating racing is an expensive type of gaming to put on.
This afternoons session really came alive when it came to the issue of medications. The panel was led to this issue by delegate, Natalie Heitz who expressed frustration with the time period associated with trying to achieve any sort of legislative change. As we all know, medication has been a long-time issue. Bill added that medication is not only an issue for integrity of competition, but also gambling. Tom Morley joined in with his feeling as an Englishman training here, adding that he feels that it is ingrained in American’s that medication isn’t an issue. This stirred a response from Bo Rainbow, who expressed the view that the USA consistently gets blamed over the medication issue when other nations use it equally if not more. Either way, this is an issue that needs to be tackled in both areas. When tackling the issue of medications, we typically revert to the issues regarding variations across states.
Gerry Duffy has been a great contributor throughout todays proceedings and he made a suggestion in this the final session on dealing with the disconnect between industry professionals and the policy makers. This is the formation of an association whose sole purpose is explaining our purpose to theses bodies. Scott added that attempts have been made before but were never executed very well.
Lisa Jane brought the session to a close on the important point that one of the most influential activities that we could do is making valuable contributions to the community that surrounds us. This will hopefully gain some much-needed supporters to our industry.