Senator Tom Udall and Representative Joe Pitts are taking major heat after introducing a bill that would rescind the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978. The bill aims to stop at least 90% of horse race betting in the US. About $11 billion is bet on racing each year. The senate bill claims to be an attempt to end doping and crack down on fraud, but the head of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association is calling the bill a brazen publicity stunt.
Alex Waldrop, the President and Chief Executive of the NTRA, stated that the Association is in strong opposition to the ‘most recent attack on horse-racing’, referring to the new Senate measure. Waldrop believes the legislation is threatening to destroy the economy of the horseracing industry which earns $26 billion and employs around 380,000 people.
While Udall and Pitts claim the industry has chronic abuse of drugs that are performance enhancing as well as corruption, Waldrop brings up the fact that the legislators ignored the efforts of progress made in the industry such as the National Uniform Medication Program. The US Jockey Club has also come out in opposition to the new bill, calling the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 the lifeblood of the industry.
In defense of their new bill, Pitts stated the racing industry is plagued by ‘unscrupulous individuals’ and despite the years of promised reform, the horseracing groups have yet to come together to create uniform rules that will protect the horses as well as the integrity of the sport.
The bills are named after racehorses who were given drugs to race and were euthanized 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 Thoroughbred who died racing after receiving a diagnosis of early degenerative joint disease.
The Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 specifically made it legal to wager on horse races across state lines – removing the sport from any sanctions provided in the The Interstate Wire Act of 1961. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) also made specific carve outs for The Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978.