Editor's Note: Updated for spelling errors and adding the section about a possible test of gambling in restaurants and bars.
With the recent news that Lou Pena has been excluded from the Meadowlands, the question people are asking, is Exclusion good or bad for the sport?
Before we proceed further, let it be understood I am talking in general terms and not speaking to the merits of the Pena exclusion. I also don't know why his exclusion caused such news; after all he was excluded from Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, so the fact the owner of those two tracks made the same decision at the Meadowlands should not surprise anyone. Also, while not yet apparent, rest assured there have been other trainers (and possibly) drivers that have been uninvited from participating at the Meadowlands or have had terms (super secret probation) on their participation.
Let's be perfectly clear, if not for the controversy regarding Lou Pena, we would not even be having this discussion. Racetracks, that are privately owned, have private property rights and thus have the right to say who is able to come on their property, the same way a homeowner can ask someone who comes to the door to leave and if they don't leave, have the police called and have the intruder charged with trespassing. You don't have to have a reason or disclose the reason you want that person off your property, Now, when it comes to more 'public' places such as businesses, you still have the right to ask someone to leave provided the basis of their exclusion is not based on the matter of race, religion, or creed.
There are multiple reasons someone can be excluded. It can be violation of track rules, legitimate suspicion but no proof of wrongdoing, or definitive proof of wrongdoing which impacts the perceived integrity of racing at the track. A person like a track representative of the horsemen association which the track has a contract with may not be excluded for performing his duties as a association representative. Some people are upset because a reason is not publicly given for an exclusion. This is out of respect of the excluded person so not to injure the person's opportunity to work elsewhere and the fact an exclusion may be subjective; the same way an employer has the right to hire or not hire a person for a job. Now horsemen are independent contractors, and since tracks are employers, they have a right to exclude an independent contractor if it doesn't fit their business plan.
Of course, horsemen associations do have a right to negotiate a contract which outlines the conditions which allow the track to exclude a person. In this case, there is no such limitation.
In my opinion, exclusion is good for racetracks provided the basis for elimination is consistent for all players. The lack for a publicly released reason for excluding an individual is best so not to deny a person the right to make a living elsewhere. Remember, exclusion is a subjective policy and not an objective decision; another track may not find the sane reason for exclusion at track A is an issue at track B.
For those of you who have been a sleep with regards to the state of gambling in the State of New Jersey, you should read this. In the meanwhile, consideration is being given to start a limited test of allowing restaurants and bars take bets on in and out of state races via automatic betting machines.