Gaming Commission


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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Gaming Commission
Equine Health and Safety

Issued: November 13, 2018
Link to full audit report 2017-S-77

To determine whether the Gaming Commission (Commission) is monitoring and enforcing New York State rules and regulations designed to promote the health and safety of equines at New York State racetracks. The audit covered the period from January 1, 2014 through August 29, 2018.

The Commission regulates all aspects of gaming activity in the State, including horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering, Class III Indian Gaming, the State lottery (including video lottery terminals), and charitable gaming. The Commission was created by Chapter 60 of the Laws of 2012 and became effective February 1, 2013. The law merged the Racing and Wagering Board with the Division of Lottery to form a single State agency. The Commission supervises four thoroughbred tracks: Finger Lakes Gaming and Raceway (which is privately owned), Saratoga Racecourse, Aqueduct Racetrack, and Belmont Park. The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) operates the latter three under a franchise agreement with the State. The Commission also supervises seven privately owned harness tracks: Batavia Downs, Buffalo Raceway, Monticello Raceway, Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, and Yonkers Raceway. The Commission’s Equine Medical Director (Director) is responsible for all aspects of equine health, safety, and welfare at State racetracks and advises the Commission on equine medication policies, as well as the safety and condition of racetrack facilities and surfaces. The Director supervises all Commission regulatory veterinarians and the New York State Equine Drug Testing Program Laboratory at Morrisville State College. The Director oversees equine testing procedures, ensures compliance with regulatory veterinary protocols, investigates incidents, and monitors the Commission’s necropsy (autopsy) program.

Key Findings

  • The Director has implemented many new measures to improve the Commission’s practices to promote equine health and safety in New York State. However, we found the Commission could better document daily operating policies and procedures; improve how incident information is recorded in the Equine Breakdown, Death, Injury and Incident Database; and ensure adherence to drug testing requirements.
  • While the Commission’s internal audit recommended the Commission create a comprehensive database of drug testing samples, the Commission has yet to do so.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop and ensure adherence to written policies and procedures for operations pertaining to equine health and safety for both harness and thoroughbred racetracks, which may include:
    • Daily operating functions for Commission staff.
    • Procedures for post-race drug testing.
    • A uniform incident recording policy.
  • As soon as practicable, develop and implement a comprehensive database that more effectively tracks each drug test sample from receipt through final disposition.

Other Related Audit/Report of Interest
New York Racing Association, Inc.: Financial Condition and Selected Expenses (2015-S-21)

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Brian Reilly
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236