Congressman Chris Gibson (NY-20) announced today that he introduced legislation, H.R. 2702, The Wire Clarification Act of 2011, to make certain that internet wagering on thoroughbred horseracing remains legal.
"In Upstate New York, we are fortunate to have Saratoga Race Track, the crown jewel of horseracing in NY State and the economic engine for our area. To sustain this much-needed tourism revenue and to protect thousands of jobs, we must ensure that horse wagering remains legal -- as intended by federal law," said Congressman Gibson. "This legislation will protect the domestic horseracing industry, preserving the foundation of many local communities. In the midst of another successful meet at Saratoga, I am proud to introduce this legislation in the United States House of Representatives."
Recently, the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve implemented a new set of rules on Internet gambling which could negatively impact the horseracing industry. While the rules were designed to crack down on illegal Internet gambling, they have unintentionally created confusion regarding the validity of credit card transactions for legitimate Internet-based wagers on horseracing that are sanctioned by the federal Interstate Horseracing Act. As a result, several credit card companies have decided not to process any gaming transactions, even legal Internet gaming transactions on horseracing.
This confusion could result in less wagering, reduced purses, and ultimately economic decline for communities, horse breeders, and thousands of individuals who earn a living at local racetracks. Furthermore, the reduction would lead to fewer taxes paid to local and state governments, which benefit greatly from the lawful horseracing industry. In fact, the Thoroughbred racing industry helps sustain a $39 billion agribusiness and an estimated 1.4 million American jobs.
Congressman Gibson's legislation would clarify the Internet gambling rules to guarantee these new restrictions are not applicable to interstate horseracing. More importantly, this legislation would relieve credit card companies from the constant threat of prosecution, allowing them to process legal online wagering as authorized by the Interstate Horseracing Act.
"For more than a decade, horseracing has offered legal, state-regulated online pari-mutuel wagering as authorized by the Interstate Horseracing Act," said Alexander M. Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. "This legislation will assure that horseracing's multi-million dollar investment in technology and the thousands of jobs that racing provides in New York and nationwide are safe and secure."
"Online pari-mutuel wagering is a growing and vital market for New York," said Charles E. Hayward, President and CEO of The New York Racing Association (NYRA). "We appreciate Rep. Gibson's efforts to protect the future of racing for NYRA, Saratoga Race Course and the entire New York horse racing and breeding industry."
The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.