NTRA Update: October 2004

NTRA Legislative Action Campaign Update

The House of Representatives has appointed the key members of a conference committee convened to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the Foreign Sales Corporation bill, which includes provisions eliminating a 30 percent withholding tax on winnings by foreign bettors and reducing the capital-gains holding period for horses from two years to one.

Among the conferees are Bill Thomas (R-CA), who will chair the conference, Tom DeLay (R-TX), Philip Crane (R-IL), and Jim McCrery (R-LA) and Charles Rangel (D-NY), Sander Levin (D-MI), Charles Stenholm (D-TX), George Miller (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA) and John Conyers (D-MI).

Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert announced the following additional committee members in connection with specific areas of the bill:

For those sections within the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Committee, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Congressman John Boehner (R-OH);

For those sections within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee, Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX);

For those sections within the jurisdiction of the Education and Workforce Committee, Chairman John Boehner (R-OH) and Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX); and

For those sections within the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) and Congressman Richard Burr (R-NC).

(Conferees from committees that oversee specific sections of the legislation (e.g., agriculture) do not have input on the entire bill, only their relevant sections.)

Senate conferees were named on July 15th and include primary supporters and authors of the provisions important to the NTRA, Senators Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), as well as Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Don Nickles (R-OK), Trent Lott (R-MS), Olympia Snow (R-ME), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Craig Thomas (R-WY), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Max Baucus (D-MT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Tom Daschle (D-SD), John Breaux (D-LA), Kent Conrad (D-SD), Bob Graham (D-FL), Jim Jeffords (I-VT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA).

Stressing the need for speed with only a few legislative days left before the Senate is expected to adjourn, conference chairman Bill Thomas outlined a process under which conferees can offer amendments that would add provisions back into the bill. The amendments must be offered by 5 p.m. Sept. 30, however, and generally must be either provisions that already existed within one of the two bills or variations on those provisions.

Thomas said that based on those amendments, he expects staff to pull together a revenue-neutral chairman's mark by Oct. 4, when formal conference negotiations are expected to begin. He said the chairman's mark will continue to be amendable during that process, with an eye to a wrapping up a conference report late Oct. 5. Thomas is committed to a “revenue-neutral” final product. Congress is expected to adjourn on or around October 8th to allow members to return home to campaign for the upcoming elections.

The NTRA’s legislative agenda remains focused on defending the industry’s current legal position regarding interstate simulcasting and electronic wagering, protecting purse levels at American tracks and improving the economic environment for owners, breeders and pari-mutuel players.

More information about the NTRA’s legislative activities is available online at www.NTRALegislation.com or by contacting Joe Clabes at (800) 792-NTRA (6872), or e-mail: jclabes@ntra.com.

Fan Interest in Horseracing Continues to Increase

The number of people ages 18 and up in the United States who said they are interested in horseracing increased 3.0% to 37.7% during the period from January 2004-July 2004 compared to the same period in 2003, it was announced by the national consumer-research firm TNS Sport – ESPN Sports Poll and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) at the NTRA’s Annual Meeting and Marketing Summit, held earlier this week in Las Vegas. The 2004 increase comes on the heels of four consecutive year-over-year increases in fan interest from 1999 to 2003, which represented an aggregate-interest increase of 13.3% (31.4% to 35.6%).

Also during the period from January 2004-July 2004, adults 18-24 who said they were “very interested” in horseracing rose 31.5% compared to the same period in 2003. Meanwhile, the percentage of U.S. adults 18+ who said they believe that horseracing is on the rise increased steadily throughout 2004, reaching 45.6% this past July.

In separate 2004 consumer research unveiled by SDS, a Washington D.C.-based market research firm, 48 million Americans said that they are “interested in going to the racetrack,” up from 34.8 million in a 2003 survey.

TNS Sport - ESPN Sports Poll conducts monthly telephone surveys to track interest in major sports. Respondents who say they are either “a little bit interested,” “somewhat interested” or “very interested” in a sport are included in the fan base.

NTRA and Magmic Inc., Launch Breeders’ Cup Wireless Game

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and Magmic, Inc., have launched the first officially licensed horseracing wireless video game in North America. Titled “Breeders’ Cup 2004,” the game is available through NTRA marketing partner Nextel, directly from Magmic at its Web site, www.magmic.com, or through www.ntra.com. It can be played on most color cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). The game will sell for $6.99 on most carriers.

“Breeders’ Cup 2004” combines several elements of Thoroughbred horseracing to create an engaging, entertaining gaming experience. Players may purchase, train and race their own Thoroughbred racehorses and also may place simulated wagers (for entertainment purposes only) on races using a wagering application designed to resemble a typical on-track self-serve wagering machine.

“Breeders’ Cup 2004” is timed to the current Thoroughbred racing year, beginning in January and concluding on October 30, when the 21st Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships will be held. In the game’s initial application, players may enter their horses in, or place simulated wagers on, races from as many as 17 NTRA member racetracks, with the ultimate goal being to own a horse that is capable of running in the Breeders’ Cup. Players can accomplish this by developing their horse’s championship-level ability through performance in races throughout the year, or by simply purchasing a talented horse from assets gained through wagering.

A second generation version of “Breeders’ Cup 2004” incorporating such elements as multiplayer functionality that will enable players from all over the world to race against each other, will be available in early fall, and an internet version of the game also is planned for rollout sometime thereafter.

In addition to the launch on Nextel, “Breeders’ Cup 2004” will soon be available through more than 25 domestic and international wireless carriers. Those scheduled to receive the game this year include: Cingular and T-Mobile in the United States. and Europe; Telus and Rogers in Canada; HKCSL in Hong Kong; 02 in Europe; China Mobile; Star Hub in Singapore and Telstra in Australia. Other domestic and international carriers will receive the game beginning in 2005.

“Breeders’ Cup 2004,” in development since last February, is a joint production of the NTRA and Magmic, Inc., a leading studio and publisher of wireless games based in Ottawa, Canada. Magmic offers a wide selection of over 25 games targeted at young people (16-35) across the action, sports, casino and multi-player genres. Magmic has extensive carrier distribution with access to more than 750 million wireless-gaming subscribers in more than 25 countries.

Magmic and the NTRA intend to introduce new versions of the game every 8-10 months. Among the features being developed for future versions are the ability to own a multi-horse stable, inclusion of additional NTRA member racetracks and additional handicapping variables to enhance the wagering experience.

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