Senate Bill Aimed at Killing Online Horse Wagering
U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) are looking to repeal the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978. That’s the act that allowed for the creation of offtrack betting (OTB) parlors and, unknowingly, paved the way for legal online horse wagering in the United States.
According Udall and Pitts, the OTB system is an incredibly lucrative, and largely overlooked, corner of the US-facing gambling and igaming industries.
In a press release promoting their bill, the two lawmakers pointed out that about 90% of the $11 billion wagered on horse racing in the US is done via OTB in the 38 states that currently allow it.
What’s Behind the Bill?
While Udall and Pitts are clearly not big fans of the horse racing industry, the gambling side of the business is not their real target.
As it turns out, both lawmakers are animal rights advocates who are disgusted with how the horses are treated, especially when it comes to controversial industry practices liked doping. The bill is also packed with amendments designed to curb common doping practices that Pitts and Udall say are harmful to horses.
Describing his beef with the business, Pitts said:
Despite years of promises of reform, horseracing groups have been unable 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.
Though Udall and Pitts are enthusiastic about their chances of reforming the horse racing industry, the handicappers over at CalvinAyre.com had a less optimistic optimistic view. They pointed out that the horse industry has plenty of powerful friends in Congress and that the chances of this bill becoming law are virtually non-existent.
After all, the horse racing industry has plenty of friends in high places. How else did they manage the only exception to the otherwise iron-clad US ban on sports betting?