Building on the Indecon Report into certain aspects of the horseracing industry, the purpose of the 2016 Act is to strengthen governance and transparency within the administratiRacng Regulatory Body (RRB), and provide for streamlining of certain administrative functions.
The 2016 Act extends the definition of –
- “integrity services” to allow the RRB ensure that horses are run fairly and properly without being limited to on course activities,
- “Racing Regulatory Body” to include limited companies established by that body, and
- explicitly providing that “Rules of Racing” apply to Point to Point racing.
Racing Regulatory Body
The racing regulatory body regulates horseracing. It
- enforce the rules of racing and in doing so is to promote integrity and fair play in horseracing,
- provide integrity services for horseracing,
- licenses racecourses under the rules of racing.
The racing regulatory body may make charges as it considers necessary to perform its functions. It may recover sums due as a simple contract debt. The regulatory authority may collect fees and charges on behalf of Horse Racing Ireland.
The regulatory body is to inform the authority when making changes in the rules of racing. When imposing a sanction, it must afford a person opportunity to appeal. It must provide an appeals procedure and ensure that any manner is heard in a fair and impartial manner.
The racing regulatory body is the Irish Turf Club for flat racing and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee relation to national Hunt racing or both.
As and from 1 January 2018 horse racing in Ireland will be regulated by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB), a company limited by guarantee. The new company has been set up by the Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee (INHSC). The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board will be responsible for the regulation of flat racing, national hunt racing and point-to-point steeplechases. It will also be the internationally recognised Irish horseracing authority in respect of its functions.
Previously regulation of the sport had been carried out by the Turf Club and the INHSC, both private clubs. Recent changes in legislation afforded the clubs the opportunity to make the change which is now happening. The members of both clubs took the decision to create the new company which they believe is a more appropriate structure for regulation in the current environment.
Both the Turf Club and the INHSC will continue to exist as private clubs. Each will nominate three directors to the board of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board and their members will still have the option of continuing to act as stewards at all race meetings. All staff will transfer to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board and will be employed by that company as and from 1st January, 2018.
The racing regulatory body or persons acting on its behalf determines whether race fixtures should be held having regard to
- the safety of horses and riders,
- conditions of fences and obstacles,
- conditions of the runnng surface,
- efficiency and management of the racecourse and
- any other matter that may affect the safe operation of horseracing at the fixture.
Rules of racing
The 2016 Act outlines the general functions of the Racing Regulatory Body by providing that the Racing Regulatory Body –
- is solely and independently responsible for the making (following consultation with HRI) and enforcing the Rules of Racing,
- provides on-course integrity services,
- licenses racecourses and participants in horseracing,
- sets charges for licences,
- is responsible for decisions regarding handicapping, doping,
- represents Irish horseracing internationally in respect of areas within its functions,
- may develop codes of practice and assurance schemes within its functions, and
- enforces rules governing point to point steeplechases in
HRI must account and pay to the Racing Regulatory Body funds received and processed by HRI as a result of administrative streamlining, in relation to licensing, registrations and fines.
Accounts, etc. of Racing Regulatory Body
The the Racing Regulatory Body shall prepare accounts in respect of its statutory obligations under the Act and such accounts will be forwarded to the Comptroller and Auditor General for audit purposes.The he Chief Executive of the Racing Regulatory Body shall attend the Public Accounts Committee of Dail Eireann when so requested.
It also provides that the Racing Regulatory Body must provide information to the Minister on request in relation to its statutory activities including its compliance with Government codes and policies.
The Racing Regulatory Body must provide information to HRI with regard to future funding requirements and disposal of funds so that HRI may comply with its statutory obligations in accounting for funding for the industry.
There is a statutory obligation for transparency in relation to the sanctions imposed by the Racing Regulatory Body.
Bookmakers and betting
Bookmakers at Point to Point meetings will be subject to the same rules as at authorised racecourses.
Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund
The 2016 Act provides that the Minister may withhold payment of instalments from the Horse and Greyhound Fund where HRI or Bord na gCon have failed to abide by the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies or where strategic plans submitted are deficient or unreasonable or where either body has failed to progress its strategic plan.
It also ensures that moneys paid from the Fund through instalments reflect the financial needs of HRI and Bord na gCon.
Compliance by Bord Na gCon with State Bodies Code of Practice
The 2016 Act amends the Greyhound Industry Acts 1958 and 1993 to provide that Bord na gCon are statutorily subject to the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies issued by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
Data sharing between HRI and Racing Regulatory Body
The 2016 Act is intended to provide for the sharing of data between HRI and the Racing Regulatory Body in accordance with the Data Protections Acts to facilitate administrative streamlining.