Internet Gambling Bill Passes Committee

After adopting language that will allow the pari-mutuel horse racing industry to continue its existing practices for accounting and financial transfers, the House Banking and Financial Services Committee passed the federal Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act.

The legislation is designed to limit off-shore Internet gambling by prohibiting the use of most banking instruments--credit cards, checks, money orders, or wire transfers--in connection with any wagering transaction that uses the Internet, according to the American Horse Council. Because the original legislation did not distinguish between legalized, state-regulated wagering activities that use technology to conduct business and the off-shore companies for which it was intended, the bill would have effectively eliminated simulcast common-pool wagering and account wagering, the AHC reported.

Under the language proposed by Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY), whose district includes Saratoga Springs, an exemption from the prohibitions in the bill was granted to legalized, state-regulated wagering. The exemption was approved by the committee on a voice vote.

“We very much appreciate the efforts of Congressman Sweeney,” AHC president Jay Hickey said. “He saw how this legislation would have adversely affected the state-regulated $34 billion pari-mutuel racing and breeding industry and worked very hard to round up the support necessary to pass his amendment.

A proposed amendment to Sweeney's amendment would have limited the exemption under the bill to simulcast wagering, but that was rejected.