AGCO’s Horse Racing Regulatory Functions
The core horse racing regulatory functions of the AGCO are:
1. Officiate at all races
The AGCO provides three officials (Judges or Stewards) to supervise races conducted at Ontario’s licensed racetracks. These officials are responsible for the enforcement of the Rules of Racing. Officials conduct investigations into alleged rule violations, fine/suspend licensees for violations and conduct reviews of regulatory matters as required.
This function, performed by investigators and/or compliance officers, includes:
- Administration of the human drug testing and breathalyzer program
- Searches for prohibited items (drugs/syringes)
- Enforcement of racetrack security standards.
The AGCO’s Investigation and Enforcement Bureau is responsible for:
- Investigations of the more serious racing violations, such as fraud and hidden ownerships
- Due diligence investigations on licence applicants or licensees
- Investigations into illegal gambling activities
- Investigations of horse abuse, race fixing or other racing and rule infractions, as well as investigating horse deaths
- Monitoring and enforcing equine medication control programs
- Liaison between the AGCO, the police community and other civilian regulatory bodies in and out of Ontario
- Enforcement of Judges/Stewards’ orders and rulings.
The AGCO issues over 15,000 licences to individuals and businesses involved in the horse racing industry. A large part of the licensing function is performed at each track facility and licensing agents are available during live racing for the convenience of licensees. The licensing process includes applications from new racetrack owners, teletheatre locations and individuals involved in the industry (i.e. grooms, trainers, etc.).
5. Regulation of Racetracks
In the public interest, the AGCO annually licenses racetracks and reviews racetrack business plans, backstretch improvement and fire safety plans and health and safety improvements as part of this process.
The AGCO also has the authority to approve the race dates applied for by racetracks.
Other Horse Racing Business
With the passage of the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015 (HRLA), some functions that had been managed by the Ontario Racing Commission were transferred to other organizations.
Appeals of rulings made by Judges and Stewards under the Rules of Racing are now heard by the Horse Racing Appeal Panel (HRAP).
Appeals of decisions of the Registrar under the HRLA related to licensing are now heard by the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT).
Industry support programs – such as the Horse Improvement Program (HIP) – are now managed by Ontario Racing.
Responsibility for the Enhanced HIP program is under the supervision of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Horse Racing Transition Branch
Administration of the Transfer Payment Agreements (TPAs) that the Ontario government has with racetracks in the province is now managed by OLG.