The issue at hand involves an October veto by Gov. Kathy Hochul of a measure that would have ended a requirement that trainers or jockeys who live in the same household have their entries coupled for the purposes of wagering.
The meeting seeks the public’s input on how such protections might work for sports wagering as a whole, given the expected launch of regulated online sports betting sometime in the next six weeks.
Married jockeys Trevor McCarthy and Katie Davis brought the issue to the fore after moving from Maryland last year to race at Aqueduct Racetrack.
At the time of the veto, the Democratic governor said she would direct the commission to review the “continued need for mandatory coupling and the circumstances under which such a requirement might be relaxed.”
Broadening conflict of interest rules
The hearing seeks comment from stakeholders and members of the public about how Commission Rule 4025.10 might be interpreted or broadened to include other wagering opportunities.
“With the implementation of sports wagering, the same questions and concerns that animated the Commission’s current horse racing coupling rules may be present in wagering on other sports events,” the commission’s announcement of the meeting reads. “The hearing also seeks the input on the topic of potential conflicts in all sports events in which wagering occurs, beyond the narrower issue of mandatory coupling in thoroughbred horse races.”
Coupling has been required in circumstances such as McCarthy’s and Davis’ for more than 35 years in New York.
Is the governor herself in conflict?
The broader issue of conflicts of interest involving spouses and gambling has been raised over the issue of Hochul’s husband, William J. Hochul Jr., a top executive at Buffalo-based Delaware North, which owns and operates casinos in New York state and elsewhere. As governor, Hochul can choose who runs the gaming commission, which regulates gambling in the state.
In an interview with the Buffalo News last year, the governor said her husband will recuse himself from any issues at Delaware North involving state government. Hochul told the newspaper, “throughout our 37 years of married life, we’ve both had careers and we have developed a very strong internal ethics among ourselves about not being involved or discussing each other’s professional world, professional work.”
What about siblings?
The conflict of interest rule in New York horse wagering applies only to spouses or those living in the same household and not necessarily to siblings. Thus, broadening the rule to the sports wagering world wouldn’t preclude bookmakers from taking action on contests such as Super Bowl XLVII, which pitted head coaches Jim and John Harbaugh, who are brothers, against each other. John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens defeated Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers 34-31.
“Should parties with some relationship to each other in an underlying athletic contest be regulated in some fashion for wagering purposes?” the commission asks. “If so, how?”
Those wishing to present written or oral testimony at the meeting can submit their requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Wendy Merton at (518) 388-3400.
Photo: Tina MacIntyre-Yee/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle/USA TODAY