The 105th Congress completed its legislative work on October 21, 1998, however they officially adjourned on December 22 following the Presidential impeachment vote. In what may be remembered as one of the most controversial years in our nation’s history, the 105th Congress was able to pass legislation that will affect the nation’s equine industry. The American Horse Council work with Congress to successfully gain funding for equine research and recreational trails, prevent tax increases for horse owners and stave off prohibition of horse racing via Internet.
Bills introduced in both the Senate (S. 474) and House (H.R. 4427) intended to prohibit gambling via the Internet were major legislative concerns for the horse industry during the 105th Congress. The “Internet Gambling Prohibition Act” would have amended Section 1084 of the U.S. Code, more commonly referred to as the “wire statute,” so that gambling over the Internet, or other interactive services, would be illegal in the U.S. Of great concern to the horse industry was that any change to the wire statute could have had an impact on existing, legal, pari-mutuel betting activities and future opportunities for the industry.
The horse industry held many meetings with Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), the original sponsor of the bill and other Members of Congress. Ultimately, the industry was able to develop language in the Senate that, while not completely exempting the horse industry, would have exempted many of the current activities, such as merging pools, simulcasting, telephone and intrastate interactive wagering, that are used by the racing industry. The Senate passed this version of the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act 90 to 10 as part of a bill providing funding for the Commerce, Justice and State Departments.