Internet Gambling Bill Still Awaits Committee Action

The "Combating Illegal Gambling Reform and Modernization Act" failed to come up for discussion by the House Judiciary Committee June 6 because the committee failed to meet. The measure, sponsored by Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, could be on the table for "mark up" again the week of June 10.

"It's still on the calendar," American Horse Council president Jay Hickey said.

The bill would prohibit Internet gambling but protect existing practices under federal law. Rep. Chris Cannon of Utah, one of two states with no legal gambling, wants the protection for the pari-mutuel industry stripped from the bill.

Meanwhile, the farm bill signed by President Bush does not include provisions for low-interest disaster-relief loans for the equine industry, Hickey said. Provisions for those affected by mare reproductive loss syndrome last year were included in a bill that passed in 2001.

"We'll continue to make efforts to make that happen," Hickey said of the push for disaster-relief provisions.

Another legislative endeavor of the AHC and National Thoroughbred Racing Association is passage of a provision that would in effect open up international wagering by eliminating tax withholding on certain wagers. Greg Avioli, deputy commissioner of the NTRA, said the measure has bipartisan support but "we're still trying to find a vehicle to attach it to."

"We're going to try to include it in a miscellaneous tax bill in Congress sometime in June," Avioli said. "The problem is finding the right vehicle."