June 2015 Issue - page 9

June 2015
Page 9
On May 1, U.S. Senator Tom
Udall (D-N.M.) and U.S. Rep-
resentative Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) in-
troduced legislation to eliminate
most wagering on horseracing by
repealing the Interstate Horserac-
ing Act of 1978, the federal leg-
islation under which pari-mutuel
racing has operated and grown
over the last four decades. The
act enabled “off-track” and online
wagering which today accounts
for about 90 percent of the $11
billion wagered on horseracing in
the 38 states that permit it.
Horseracing is the only sport
specially permitted by federal
law to offer online gambling and
interstate betting, yet widespread
corruption has stained the indus-
try, the Members said in a press
Udall and Pitts have previ-
ously introduced legislation to
clean up the sport. On the same
date in 2013, following hearings
held in Kennett Square, PA, the
pair introduced The Horseracing
Integrity and Safety Act, which
would have enabled the U.S.
Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)
to enforce anti-doping standards
in races with simulcast wagering.
The bill died in committee. Prior
to that the lawmakers introduced
similar legislation tasking the
Federal Trade Commission to
improve the sport that also went
The current bills are named
after racehorses who were given
drugs to race and were eutha-
nized on the track. Udall named
the Senate bill after Teller All
Gone, a two-year-old Quarter
horse who fell after the wire at a
race in New Mexico. Pitts named
the House bill after Coronado
Heights, a four-year-old Thor-
oughbred who died racing after
receiving a diagnosis of early
degenerative joint disease.
Pitts, Udall Invoke Horseracing’s Nuclear Option
An analysis of the legislation
by the American Horse Coun-
cil concluded, "While there are
references to performance-en-
hancing drugs, lack of uniformity,
breakdowns, and illegal drugs, in
the press release accompanying
the bill and in the bill’s findings,
in essence the legislation simply
repeals the IHA. The effect of
the bill would be to return racing
to the way it operated in the
1950s and 1960s."
In the press release, the two
Members of Congress noted that
their bill would “eliminate most
wagering on horseracing, encour-
aging the sport to end doping and
crack down on cheaters.” They
argued that the goals of the IHA,
which are “to regulate inter-
state commerce with respect to
pari-mutuel wagering on horses
in order to further the horseracing
industry,” had not been met. “It’s
time to crack down on corruption
by ending horseracing’s sweet-
heart gambling privileges [under
the IHA]. We must stop the
abuse and restore integrity to this
once-dignified sport.”
The release notes that Udall
and Pitts had introduced legisla-
tion in prior Congresses to “clean
up the sport. This new approach
takes their bipartisan push to
the next level by repealing the
Interstate Horseracing Act.” The
legislation also repeals racing’s
exemption from the prohibitions
of the Unlawful Internet Gam-
bling Enforcement Act, which
regulates interstate wagering on
the Internet.
“Horseracing is the Sport
of Kings. Unfortunately, how-
ever, it’s plagued by too many
unscrupulous trainers, owners,
veterinarians and other race track
officials who race sickened or
injured horses, pumping them full
of painkillers or other perfor-
mance enhancing drugs in order
to try to win at all costs,” Pitts
said in the press release. “Despite
years of promises of reform,
horseracing groups have been un-
able to come together to develop
uniform rules that protect both
horses and the integrity of the
sport. This legislation will end a
federal exception for gambling
on horseracing. Since 2008, over
7,000 race horses have died on
America’s racetracks. It’s past
time to put measures in place that
protect racehorses from abuse at
the track.”
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