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Keeping gambling fair

"It's an important job particularly in light of the fact that Saratoga, Albany and the Capital District's economy is so dependent on the success of the Saratoga meet. Much of my job is to be sort of the traffic cop or the juggler of various factions in the racing industry, so earlier this year, when New York City OTB anounced it wouldn't pay monies owed to NYRA, coupled with other issues, there was a chance or some indication that NYRA wouldn't hold the meet. That would have been devastating for the economy of the Capital District," said Sabini. "I intervened and made sure we made NYRA as whole as possibe so the Saratoga meet would go on."

The board does its best to spot people trying to get around the regulations, but as Sabini pointed out, anytime there are rules, people will try to find a way around them.

"There was a case this year where a capital area horse breeder was found have been abusing his horses. We took his license to operate at tracks away and he was subsequently convicted of animal cruelty," said Sabini. "Regulations are like anything else. If people feel they can get aruond them, they will. The idea is to remove the temptation. Certainly we have had histories of drug positives coming in at various tracks, but it's hard to explain how and why people try to get around rules, but they do."

To cut back on dishonesty, the board conducts drug testing at horse tracks to make sure they're not tampered with. It monitors transactions of money to make sure pools are accurate, employs a sort of umpire for races and has a slew of other regulations in place.

"Gov. Rockefeller created this to take a broader view and make sure there was enough regulatory framework to ensure public confidence," said Sabini.

Sabini has his hand in the racing pools behind the scenes, but he's also a familiar face in front of the curtain too.

"He's at the track, out in the field, all the time. He's very hands on in being out there, meeting with different individuals working there, hearing what they're saying and looking at situations as they arise. He's been at the Saratoga meet quite a bit this year," said Joe Mahoney, communications director.

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