Legislation Introduced to Repeal the Interstate Horseracing Act

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Legislation has been introduced in the last few Congresses regarding the use of medications and drugs in racing. All have offered the racing industry a proposed structure, from a national authority to an independent anti-doping agency, to deal with this issue. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representatives Joe Pitts (R-PA) were the principal sponsors of these bills.

But the legislation introduced yesterday, April 30, by Senator Udall and Congressman Pitts (S. 1174 and H.R.2182, respectively) offers no such structure. In what can be described as a "more stick than carrot" approach, the bill simply repeals the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 (IHA), the federal legislation under which pari-mutuel racing has operated and grown over the last four decades.

While there are references to "performance-enhancing 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 a press release issued upon the introduction of the legislation, the two Members of Congress noted that their bill would "eliminate most wagering on horseracing, encouraging the sport to end doping and crack down on cheaters." They argued that the goals of the IHA, which are "to regulate interstate 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 sweetheart 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 legislation in prior Congresses to "cleanup 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 Gambling Enforcement Act, which regulates interstate wagering on the Internet.

You can follow information from the AHC on their website.