Gibson Introduces NY Internet Wagering Bill

Will ensure Internet wagering on Thoroughbred horse racing remains legal.

New York Congressman Chris Gibson announced Aug. 9 he has introduced legislation, H.R. 2702, the Wire Clarification Act of 2011, to ensure Internet wagering on Thoroughbred horse racing remains legal.

“To sustain the much-needed tourism revenue and protect thousands of jobs, we must ensure horse wagering remains legal – as intended by federal law,” said Gibson in a statement of the legislation, which has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. “This legislation will protect the domestic horseracing industry, preserving the foundation of many local communities. In the midst of another successful meet at Saratoga, I am proud to introduce this legislation in the United States House of Representatives.” 

Recently, the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve implemented a new set of rules on Internet gambling horsemen believe could negatively impact the racing industry. While the rules were designed to crack down on illegal Internet gambling, officials said they have unintentionally created confusion regarding the validity of credit card transactions for legitimate Internet-based wagers on horseracing that are sanctioned by the federal Interstate Horseracing Act. As a result, several credit card companies have decided not to process any gaming transactions, even legal Internet gaming transactions on horseracing.

This confusion could result in less wagering, reduced purses, and ultimately economic decline for communities, horse breeders, and thousands of individuals who earn a living at local racetracks, officials said.  Furthermore, the reduction would lead to fewer taxes paid to local and state governments which benefit substantially from the racing industry. 

Gibson’s legislation would clarify the Internet gambling rules to guarantee these new restrictions are not applicable to interstate horseracing.  It would also relieve credit card companies from the constant threat of prosecution, allowing them to process legal online wagering as authorized by the Interstate Horseracing Act.

“For more than a decade, horse racing has offered legal, state-regulated online pari-mutuel wagering as authorized by the Interstate Horseracing Act,” said Alexander M. Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, in a release. “This legislation will assure horseracing’s multi-million dollar investment in technology and the thousands of jobs that racing provides in New York and nationwide are safe and secure.”

"Online pari-mutuel wagering is a growing and vital market for New York," added Charles Hayward, president and CEO of the New York Racing Association, in a statement. “We appreciate Rep. Gibson's efforts to protect the future of racing for NYRA, Saratoga Race Course, and the entire New York horse racing and breeding industry."