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Federal Court Rules In Favor Of States In Horse Racing Rules Case

Thoroughbred horses participating in a race at the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va.
Courtesy Photo
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Coady Photography
Thoroughbred horses participating in a race at the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va.

A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of West Virginia, Louisiana and Texas in a case regarding the implementation of federal racetrack safety rules for horse racing.

Both the nonprofit Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), and the federal act that created it, were declared unconstitutional by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Congress originally passed HISA in 2020.

The authority would have overseen safety programs and made decisions regulating doping and medication in horse racing. In the past, these decisions were made at the state level.

The court ruled that the act gave too much power to the agency and not enough to the Federal Trade Commission, which had the power to approve or reject HISA regulations but not to modify them.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has previously made statements against the legality of HISA, while animal rights organizations like Animal Wellness Action disagree, calling the act the “sport’s last chance at survival.”

An injunction was previously placed on the agency by the U.S. District Court’s Western District of Louisiana last July, but was blocked by the appellate court. A racehorse collapsed and was euthanized during a race at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack, and Resort in New Cumberland shortly after the initial injunction.

West Virginia has two racetracks in the state, also including Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.

Eastern Panhandle Reporter, ssnyder@wvpublic.org, 304-449-4653

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