Advocacy Center 2017-11-03T11:36:08+00:00

NTRA Advocacy Center

About NTRA Advocacy

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association uses political advocacy in Washington, D.C. to protect and grow the horse racing and breeding industries.

As a 501(c) (6) membership organization and trade association, the NTRA lobbies and raises Political Action Committee funds through Horse PAC® to help Federal candidates who understand our industry’s issues.

The Alpine Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm, and the American Horse Council, representing more than 130 equine breeds, assist the NTRA in its advocacy efforts on behalf of the Thoroughbred industry.

Federal lobbying makes our industry more competitive.  The NTRA seeks tax legislation that benefits industry stakeholder groups such as horse owners, breeders, racetracks, advance deposit wagering service providers and horseplayers. As a trade association, the NTRA works proactively with other industry groups to address matters such as equine health and safety, unwanted horses, medication, horse identification and sales integrity.

2017

The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced in September that they would formally adopt modernized regulations regarding the withholding and reporting of pari-mutuel proceeds. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) had long pressed for these updated regulations that will allow horseplayers to keep more of their winnings, thereby increasing the amount wagered on U.S. pari-mutuel racing by as much as 10 percent annually, or upwards of $1 billion, according to independent estimates.

Under the new regulations, the IRS will consider the inclusion of a bettor’s entire investment in a single pari-mutuel pool when determining the amount reported or withheld for tax purposes, as opposed to only the amount wagered on the correct result.

For example, the amount wagered by a Pick Six player who hits with one of 140 combinations on a $1-minimum wager now will be $140, which is the total amount bet into the Pick Six pool. This more accurate calculation will remove the significant reporting and withholding obligations on horseplayers and the unnecessary paperwork for the IRS that was a result of the prior rule that used only  the $1 bet on the single winning combination as the amount wagered.

2015

Senior members of the Department of Treasury met with the NTRA and other industry participants to learn more about the horseplayer withholding issue, outlined in a 2014 letter to Treasury. Also in attendance was Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who has been instrumental in building support for modernizing current withholding rules to better and more fairly represent today’s wagering menu.

Treasury Department officials indicated that action may be forthcoming as part of a review of IRS Form W2-G, used by taxpayers to report gambling winnings and any Federal income tax withheld on those winnings. In March 2015, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Public Hearing (Notice) that opens the door to the possible addition of pari-mutuel gambling winnings to updated reporting and withholding requirements being developed for bingo, keno and slot machine players. NTRA continues to work with the Treasury Department as well as supporters on Capitol Hill to change the definition of a bet or a wager.

2014

Seventeen members of Congress joined in supporting a key initiative of the NTRA, a request that the IRS clarify its definition of the “cost of a wager” in determining whether a winning horse player is subject to IRS reporting and withholding. Horseplayers wagering on pari-mutuel races currently are subject to reporting of winnings of $600 or more and automatic Federal tax withholding on pari-mutuel winnings of $5,000 or more at odds of at least 300-1. The “cost of a wager,” now defined simply as the single winning bet the player makes (versus the total investment made), is at the center of these calculations, which frequently trigger reporting and/or withholding for horseplayers.  Withholding reduces players’ liquidity during handicapping and adversely impacts pari-mutuel handle and purses. Withholding levels for pari-mutuel winnings were last changed (from $1,000 to $5,000) in 1992. Reporting levels have not changed since the mid-1970s.

A provision that retroactively extended three-year tax depreciation for all racehorses was passed in December by the United States Senate as part of H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014. The House of Representatives also overwhelmingly passed H.R. 5771 to extend retroactively through the end of 2014 numerous provisions that expired or were reduced at the end of 2013. With the support of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the three-year depreciation schedule originally passed into law as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, giving the provision a five-year life span. In anticipation of the bill’s sunset, Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) in 2013 introduced the provision in a standalone bill, the Race Horse Cost Recovery Act, which became part of H.R. 5771.

2009

Legislation that would eliminate the automatic 25 percent Federal withholding tax on pari-mutuel winnings of $5,000 or more if the odds are at least 300 times the amount wagered was introduced on April 28 by Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY).   The “Pari-Mutuel Conformity and Equality Act of 2009” – or PACE Act (H.R. 2140) would end this unfair taxation of horseplayers.

2008

In May 2008, NTRA secured passage of legislation that was first introduced in the 109th Congress. The Equine Equity Act (EEA), part of the broader Farm Bill, allows for accelerated depreciation of racehorses from seven years (in most cases) to 36 months over four tax years. The EEA was effective January 1, 2009. Its initial application extends through the five-year term of the Farm Bill and may be renewed with the next Farm Bill (2012).

2006

After 10 years of attempts, Congress passed an Internet gaming bill that effectively banned the use of credit or other forms of payment for any type of online gaming except intrastate and tribal gaming and pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing, as authorized by the amended Interstate Horseracing Act (IHA).

2005

Legislation to provide horse owners and breeders significant tax benefits was introduced by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The Equine Equity Act (EEA), introduced as Senate Bill 1528, was later introduced in the House by Representative Ron Lewis (R-KY) as H.R. 4151. The EEA included changes in the depreciation schedule and capital gains holding period for racehorses, benefiting horse owners and breeders. These two tax components of the legislation failed to move during the 109th Congress; however, accelerated by the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, horse breeders became eligible for Federal disaster assistance during droughts and other farm-related emergencies with a provision in the Agriculture Appropriations bill. This legislation was originally included in EEA and put horse breeders on equal terms with producers of most types of livestock with respect to disaster-assistance programs offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

2004

International simulcasting received a boost when the NTRA secured passage of legislation to eliminate a 30% withholding tax on winnings by foreign nationals wagering into U.S. pools.  This allowed U.S. tracks to accept wagers from countries such as Canada, which previously had been forced to create their own wagering pools on U.S. racing. As of 2007, all racing jurisdictions are now offering co-pooled wagering with Canada.

2002

To promote and facilitate the accumulation of voluntary contributions from members of the NTRA for the support of political parties and candidates for elective office in the United States, the NTRA activated the Federal Political Action Committee (PAC) now known as Horse PAC.  It has become the nation’s largest gaming PAC in terms of annual contributions and is dedicated to the support of candidates who understand horseracing’s issues.

2000

Industry foresight led to an important amendment to the Interstate Horseracing Act (IHA).  Along with the American Horse Council, lobbyists and other industry organizations, the NTRA helped secure the IHA amendment that legalized pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing via the Internet. Years later, this move made the IHA a focal point of legislation designed to ban online wagering.

How can Federal lobbying help make our industry more competitive?

Primarily by seeking tax legislation that benefits industry stakeholder groups such as horse owners, breeders, racetracks, advance deposit wagering service providers and players but also by addressing select issues that directly impact the economics of racing, such as Internet wagering, immigration and matters that affect farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers.

How does the NTRA lobby on Capitol Hill?

NTRA retains Washington, D.C.-based The Alpine Group to lobby on issues specific to pari-mutuel horse racing and breeding. The Alpine Group coordinates its efforts with the NTRA’s in-house legislative team and with the American Horse Council, a national association representing more than 160 equine breeds.

How is the Legislative Action Campaign funded?

The Legislative Action Campaign raises funds through three programs: the ¼% Sales Check-off, NTRA Foal Program and Horseplayers’ Coalition membership. For the former, buyers, sellers and consignors may support the Campaign by pledging ¼ of one percent on the price of their horses sold at Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton, Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company, Barretts, Breeders’ Sales Company of Louisiana and the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association. Every $1,000 in a horse’s sale price equals $2.50 to the Campaign. Individuals who choose not to participate in auction sales may pledge contributions through the NTRA Foal Program. Others may support the Campaign by joining the Horseplayers’ Coalition, a group whose objective is to seek legislative and regulatory solutions to tax and business issues that impact pari-mutuel racetracks and their customers.

How do I participate?

Sellers, consignors and designated agents may “pre-commit” their pledge on sales entry forms. Buyers, and sellers who miss the deadline for pre-commitments, can pledge until the close of the sale billing. Owners and breeders may contribute through the Foal Program by regular mail. Horseplayers and other individuals may become members of the Horseplayers’ Coalition by joining the National Handicapping Championship (NHC) Tour.

Who is eligible to participate?

The Campaign’s supporting programs are open to participation by individuals, corporate entities (partnerships, farms, etc.), U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.

How much can I contribute?

There is no limit on the amount that can be contributed.

Use the links below to access current bills and legislation affecting the horse racing industry and to contact your Federal representatives in Congress.

Ask your representative to join the Congressional Horse Caucus. This bipartisan group was formed to educate members of the House of Representatives and their staffs about the importance of the horse industry in the economic, agricultural, sporting, gaming and recreational life of the nation.

Contact your U.S. Congressperson

Contact your U.S. Senator

Animal Welfare

H.R. 1282
Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2015
Introduced by: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Legislative Action: Prohibits a person from transporting a horse in interstate commerce in a motor vehicle (except a vehicle operated exclusively on rail or rails) containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another. Prescribes civil penalties for persons who knowingly violate such prohibition.
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
Companion to bill S. 850; Related to bill S. 946

S. 850
Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2015
Introduced by: Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Legislative Action: Prohibits a person from transporting a horse in interstate commerce in a motor vehicle (except a vehicle operated exclusively on rail or rails) containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another. Prescribes civil penalties for persons who knowingly violate such prohibition.
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
Companion to bill H. R. 1282; Related to bill S. 946

S. 946
Safe Transport for Horses Act
Introduced by: Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Legislative Action: Prohibits a person from transporting a horse in interstate commerce in a motor vehicle (except a vehicle operated exclusively on rail or rails) containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another. Prescribes civil penalties for persons who knowingly violate such prohibition.
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
Related to bills H. R. 1282 and S. 850

H.R.  1942
Safeguard American Foods Export Act of 2015
Introduced by: Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH)
Legislative Action: Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to deem equine (horses and other members of the equidae family) parts to be an unsafe food additive or animal drug. Prohibits the knowing sale or transport of equines or equine parts in interstate or foreign commerce for purposes of human consumption.
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and to the House Committee on Agriculture.
Companion to bill S. 1214

S. 1214
John Rainey Memorial Safeguard American Foods Export Act of 2015
Introduced by: Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Legislative Action: The Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2015 would prohibit the sale or transport of horses and other equines for the purpose of consumption. It would establish congressional recognition that equines are not domesticated for human consumption. It would also recognize that United States-bred horses are treated with unsafe chemicals and that therefore consumption of equines raised in the United States is dangerous to human health.
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Companion to bill H.R. 1942

H. R. 2641
Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2015
Introduced by: Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA)
Legislative Action: Requires: (1) there to be an independent anti-doping organization with responsibility for ensuring the integrity and safety of horse races that are the subject of interstate off-track wagers, and (2) the independent anti-doping organization designated pursuant to the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006 to serve as such organization. Sets forth as the duties of such organization: (1) developing, publishing, and maintaining rules regarding substances, methods, and treatments that may and may not be administered to a horse participating in such a race; (2) implementing programing relating to anti-doping education, research, testing, and adjudication to prevent any horse participating in such a race from racing under the effect of any prohibited substance, method, or treatment; and (3) excluding from participation in any such race any person who is determined to have violated such a rule or who is subject to a suspension from horse racing activities by any state racing commission. Prescribes conditions under which such organization may: (1) suspend the period a person is excluded from participation; and (2) permit the use of furosemide by a horse participating in such a race during the two-year period following enactment of this Act. Permits a host racing association to conduct a horse race that is the subject of an interstate off-track wager, and permits an interstate off-track wager to be accepted by an off-track betting system, only if consent is obtained from such organization. Requires such organization to ensure that all costs incurred in carrying out its duties are defrayed pursuant to agreements for such consent.
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce

H.R. 3084
Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015
Introduced by: Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY)
Legislative Action: Establishes the Thoroughbred Horseracing Anti-Doping Authority as an independent organization with responsibility for developing and administering an anti-doping program for Thoroughbred horses (covered horses), the trainers, owners, veterinarians, and employees of such persons and other personnel who are engaged in the care, training, or racing of such horses (covered persons), and horseraces that involve only Thoroughbreds and that are the subject of interstate off-track wagers (covered horseraces). Grants the Authority exclusive jurisdiction for anti-doping matters over all covered horses, persons, and horseraces, effective January 1, 2017.

Imposes the jurisdiction and authority of the Authority as conditions upon the privilege to accept, receive, or transmit wagers on, and to participate in, covered horseraces. Vests the Authority with the same powers over Thoroughbred horseracing licensees as the state racing commissions have.

Directs the Authority to develop and administer the Thoroughbred horseracing anti-doping program, which shall include:

lists of permitted and prohibited substances and methods; a schedule of sanctions for violations; programs relating to anti-doping research and education; testing procedures, standards, and protocols for in-competition and out-of-competition testing; procedures for investigating, charging, and adjudicating violations and for the enforcement of sanctions for violations; and laboratory standards for accreditation and testing requirements, procedures, and protocols. Conditions eligibility to participate in covered horseraces on covered persons agreeing that they and their covered horses shall be bound by the provisions of the program.

Directs the Authority to establish: (1) a list of anti-doping rule violations applicable to either horses or covered persons; (2) standards of accreditation for laboratories involved in the testing of samples taken from Thoroughbred horses, the process for achieving and maintaining accreditation, and the standards and protocols for testing of samples; (3) rules for anti-doping results management and the disciplinary process for anti-doping rule violations; and (4) uniform rules imposing sanctions against covered persons and/or covered horses for anti-doping rule violations.

Requires funds for the establishment and administration of the anti-doping program to be paid by the Thoroughbred horseracing industry.
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce


Internet Gaming

S. 1668
Restoration of America’s Wire Act
Introduced by: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Legislative Action: Amends provisions of the federal criminal code, commonly known as the Wire Act, to provide that the prohibition against using a wire communication facility for the transmission of bets or wagers, wagering information, or wagering proceeds shall: (1) apply to any bet or wager (currently, to bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest); and (2) include any transmission over the Internet carried interstate or in foreign commerce.

States that nothing in this Act shall be construed to preempt any state law prohibiting gambling or to alter, limit, or extend: (1) the relationship between the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 and other federal laws currently in effect, (2) the ability of a state licensed lottery or state licensed retailer to make on-premises retail lottery sales or to transmit information ancillary to such sales, (3) the ability of a state licensed gaming establishment or a tribal gaming establishment to transmit information assisting in the placing of a bet or water on the physical premises of the establishment, or (4) the relationship between federal laws and state charitable gaming laws.
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the Senate Committee of the Judiciary
Companion to bill H.R. 707

H.R. 707
Restoration of America’s Wire Act
Introduced by: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
Legislative Action: Amends provisions of the federal criminal code, commonly known as the Wire Act, to provide that the prohibition against transmission of wagering information shall apply to any bet or wager, or information assisting in the placing of any bet or wager (thus making such prohibition applicable to all types of gambling activities, including internet gambling). States that nothing in this Act shall be construed to: (1) preempt any state law prohibiting gambling; or (2) alter, limit, or extend the relationship between the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 and other federal laws currently in effect, the ability of a state licensed lottery retailer to make in-person, computer-generated retail lottery sales, or the relationship between federal laws and state charitable gaming laws.
Bill Referral: House Judiciary Committee
Companion to bill S. 1668

H. R. 457
New Jersey Betting and Equal Treatment Act of 2015
Introduced by: Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
Legislative Action: Amends the federal judicial code to exempt a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or waging scheme operating exclusively in New Jersey, to the extent such scheme is approved by that state’s legislature by statute, from the prohibition against a governmental entity, or a person acting pursuant to the law or compact of a governmental entity, sponsoring, operating, advertising, or promoting sports gambling. This bill will not affect the current activities of pari-mutuel horse racing.
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

H. R. 416
Sports Gaming Opportunity Act of 2015
Introduced by: Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Legislative Action: Amends the federal judicial code to exempt a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme authorized by a state by a statute enacted on or after January 1, 2015, and in effect not later than January 1, 2019, from the prohibition against a governmental entity, or a person acting pursuant to the law or compact of a governmental entity, sponsoring, operating, advertising, or promoting sports gambling. This bill will not affect the current activities of pari-mutuel horse racing.
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

H. R. 2182
Coronado Heights Horseracing Deregulation Act of 2015
Introduced by: Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA)
Legislative Action:  Repeals the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Companion to bill S.1174

S. 1174
Teller All Gone Horseracing Deregulation Act of 2015
Introduced by: Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)
Legislative Action:  Repeals the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
Companion to bill H.R. 2182


Taxation

H.R. 3671
Race Horse Cost Recovery Act of 2015
Introduced by: Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)
Legislative Action: This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to modify the accelerated depreciation allowance for race horses to allow a three-year recovery period for any race horse. (Current law limits depreciation to race horses placed in service before January 1, 2015, and race horses that are more than two years old if placed in service after December 31, 2014.)
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee

H.R. 3672
Equine Tax Parity Act
Introduced by: Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)
Legislative Action: This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code, with respect to the preferential tax treatment of gains and losses from the sale of depreciable property used in a trade or business, to eliminate “horses” from the definition of “livestock” (thus making the 24-month holding period requirement for livestock inapplicable to horses and allowing horses to be treated as capital assets subject to the existing 1-year holding period requirement).
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee

 


Immigration

S. 1695
Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016
Introduced by:  Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Legislative Action:  Included in the bill are provisions that would block some of the harmful provisions in a just adopted federal rule regulating the H-2B temporary guest worker program. The H-2B program is used by members of the horse industry, principally horse trainers and owners, who cannot find American workers to fill semi-skilled jobs at racetracks, horse shows, fairs and in similar non-agricultural activities
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and reported to the Senate without amendment.
Companion to bill H.R. 3020

H.R. 3020
Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016
Introduced byRep. Tom Cole (R-OK)
Legislative Action:  Included in the bill are provisions that would block some of the harmful provisions in a just adopted federal rule regulating the H-2B temporary guest worker program. The H-2B program is used by members of the horse industry, principally horse trainers and owners, who cannot find American workers to fill semi-skilled jobs at racetracks, horse shows, fairs and in similar non-agricultural activities
Bill Referral: The bill was referred to the House Committee on Appropriations, and reported to the House without amendment.
Companion to bill S. 1695

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