A bill introduced Thursday by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., would repeal the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978, which allows tracks to "simulcast" their races for betting in other states.
About 90 percent of the $11 billion wagered on horse racing comes from that type of betting in the 38 states that permit it, according to a news release from the lawmakers, indicating they know what a heavy stick they are wielding.
The legislation also would encourage "the sport to end doping and crack down on cheaters."
On Friday, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and other groups released statements opposing the bill.
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"The Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 is the lifeblood of the industry, and we strongly oppose any effort to repeal it," James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, said in a statement. "The Jockey Club believes that medication reform in the Thoroughbred industry will come about only with insight and cooperation from industry stakeholders, and we will continue to work with legislative leaders and Thoroughbred industry groups to develop and implement uniform rules and penalties that further ensure the safety of our athletes and the integrity of our sport.
"As an organization, The Jockey Club firmly believes that horses should compete only when they are free from the influence of medication."
The American Horse Council said the bill would leave no structure for racing to operate in. "The effect of the bill would be to return racing to the way it operated in the 1950s and 1960s," the industry group said.
The NTRA called the bill, released just before the Kentucky Oaks and Derby, two of the sport's highest-profile races, "a shameless publicity stunt."