Racing And Gaming Conference Of Saratoga Returns With A More Mainstream Approach - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Racing And Gaming Conference Of Saratoga Returns With A More Mainstream Approach

In recent racing seasons, the Albany Law School's Racing and Gaming Conference was a hub for lawyers and racing industry executives to gather and discuss legal issues facing the racing and wagering industries. After the 2019 edition of the conference, it seemed the event may have run its course, as the college decided it would no longer host the event, which is traditionally held in Saratoga between the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale and the Jockey Club Round Table.

Attorney Patrick Brown, co-founder of Brown & Weinraub, couldn't let it go.

“I was very disappointed because I worked on it for many years,” Brown said. “I decided, well I know the conference, so why don't I step up and try to do it myself?”

Brown was on the event's advisory board for the law school, and had been a panelist, sponsor, and speaker at various times during the life of the event. The conference had been offered for continuing education credits for equine attorneys, but Brown had bigger ideas of what it could be.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and one of Brown's first actions as the new organizer of the event was to cancel its 2020 edition. He delayed planning the 2021 conference until it became clear that the Saratoga race meet would go on with fans in attendance. Then, he got to work.

As the product of a law school, the conference has previously been focused on academic legal subjects. Brown wanted to open it up a bit, so racing fans and industry professionals could find an engaging topic presented in a way that made sense to them. While lawyers still make up a portion of the speakers and panelists at this year's event, Brown has balanced them with non-attorneys whose perspective he finds key to the issues at hand.

“I wanted to move the focus of the conference from academic/lawyer to some academics, lots of industry folks, and if we can attract some fans, just regular people who are really interested in horse racing and the gambling industry, I wanted to try to make the panels attractive to fans as well – and potential participants in horse racing,” Brown said. “I think we lawyers can get into the weeds quickly. It's interesting, and the panels I participated in were very good for lawyers but I wanted to make it less of that and more accessible to non-lawyers.”

This year's topics include an examination of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) and its challenges, information on decoupling, ownership models, sports betting in New York, mobile sports betting, esports wagering, and tribal gaming.

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Brown has also moved the event from a hotel downtown to the 1863 Club at the track and will be partnering with the New York Racing Association for the first time. It always made sense to have the event during the race meet, but Brown wanted to connect it more directly with the experience of the track, which is the primary draw for most attendees.

In some ways, Brown said he has had a career's worth of preparation to structure an event like this one (although he admits he has had considerable organizational help from Spectrum Gaming Group). Brown worked in Gov. Mario Cuomo's Counsel's Office in the late 1980s, where he advised Cuomo on matters pertaining to racing, lottery, and tribal gaming law. After Cuomo left office, Brown worked for a firm with a number of racing industry clients before launching his own firm in 2001.

He is also a Thoroughbred owner.

Brown said there are two panels he's most excited about — one he will moderate on mobile sports wagering, and another titled 'Economics of Bookmaking,' which will feature a top Vegas attorney and a professional bookmaker.

“The point of that panel is to highlight that one of the fundamental challenges of the new sports wagering is to get people to change their behavior,” said Brown. “People who bet on sports in this country have been doing it the same way for a long time and when you bet with a bookie, you don't have to put the money up, you can bet on credit. There's advantages to doing it that way, and the authorized sports books have to now get people to change that behavior.

“I really like the array of policy choices you have to make when you're trying to create a rational horse racing and gambling policy in a state. It's really fascinating to me.”

The Racing and Gaming Conference at Saratoga will be held Aug. 16 and 17. Registration is available on site or in advance at this link.

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