NTRA in Critical Talks with Justice Department on Internet Bill

With the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act expected for markup in the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning, officials with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association headed by executive vice president Greg Avioli have been actively negotiating with the Department of Justice over language in the bill relevant to horse racing.

The legislation, sponsored by Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte, has failed to get out of committee in previous attempts after horse racing exemptions were deleted. NTRA officials have been seeking language that will provide a specific exemption for wagering authorized by the 1978 Interstate Horseracing Act, which was amended in 2000 to permit Internet wagering on horse racing.

The Department of Justice has previously taken the position that interstate wagering -- which now accounts for 85% of pari-mutuel handle in the United States--is a violation of the 1961 Wire Act. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act is not expected to clarify which federal law -- the Wire Act, Horseracing Act, or possibly another statute -- has ultimate authority over racing, but NTRA officials are confident the DOJ will not block language recognizing existing Internet wagering made possible by the 2000 amendment to the Interstate Horseracing Act.