Racing Takes Hit in Amended Internet Gambling Bill

The exemption in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act granted to state-licensed gambling activities, including horse racing, was deleted by the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. The amended bill passed by a vote of 16-15 and will move on to the Rules Committee.

A different version of the bill (H.B. 21), which aims at illegal off-shore wagering but exempts state-regulated activities like horse racing, was passed by the House Finance Committee last week and will also be brought before the Rules Committee.

National Thoroughbred Racing Association deputy commissioner Greg Avioli said the Rules Committee now will decide which, if any, version of the bill goes before the full House for a vote.

A similar predicament occurred last year when a bill introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, which drew opposition from the NTRA because it did not exempt state-licensed horse racing, passed through committee but never was brought for a full vote of the House. Avioli said heavy pressure from the horse and greyhound industries and other licensed gambling entities led to the bill being tabled. He believes this year's version is likely to meet a similar fate.

"We'll definitely speak with members of the Horse Caucus and our friends in the leadership in the House and Senate to educate them what it would mean if the bill passes in this form," Avioli said. "The bill last year, that was the last you really saw of it was (in committee). That was because all the licensed entities opposed it and (lawmakers) had to respect that opposition."

The NTRA has supported banning the use of credit cards or other electronic fund transfers to pay for off-shore gambling because the money does not go towards tracks and horsemen.