|NTRA Legislative Update: June 1, 2005
- WTO Ruling Raises Issue of Account and Internet Wagering
recent World Trade Organization ruling in the dispute between Antigua
and the United States may have far-reaching consequences for account and
Internet wagering on U.S. racing. Most immediately, however, the WTO ruling
has provided new fuel for Senator Jon Kyl’s longtime opposition
to Internet gaming. A current draft of Sen. Kyl’s bill now being
circulated on Capitol Hill contains no specific carve out for Internet
gaming on pari-mutuel horseracing. All prior versions of the Kyl bill,
which has been introduced on four separate occasions, have included this
The situation, however, is not as dire as news accounts might indicate.
NTRA has been working closely with Sen. Kyl’s staff to review in
detail the draft language and explain why a specific carve out for racing
will be necessary to secure the horse industry’s support for the
bill (and conversely to avoid its opposition to the bill). The association
has provided Senator Kyl’s office with a summary of those arguments
and continues proactive efforts to ensure that horse racing’s legislative
carve out is retained and the industry suffers no legislative reversals.
H-2B Visa Reform Latest NTRA Priority to Become Law
On May 11th, President Bush signed the Iraq/Afghanistan Supplemental
Appropriations bill into law. The bill includes one of the NTRA’s
top legislative priorities, a measure sponsored by Senator Barbara Mikulski
(D-MD) that would address problems created by the limited availability
of H-2B visas. Many employers in the Thoroughbred industry who rely on
the H-2B programs for semi-skilled immigrant workers for non-agricultural
jobs will benefit from the new law.
This year, the number of H-2B visas available for immigrant workers is
capped at 66,000. Under the new provision, any foreign worker who has
received a visa under the H-2B program in the last three years will be
exempt from this cap for the next two years. Each year many trainers,
training facilities, and other service providers in the industry rely
on these workers to fill jobs.
The bill will also provide a more equitable distribution of new visas
throughout the year. Beginning in FY 2006, which starts October 1, 2005,
half of the 66,000 regular H-2B visas will be issued for the first part
of the year and half will be issued for the second part, starting April
1, 2006. This change in distribution will not apply to repeat H-2B workers.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service is expected to issue instructions
on filing these applications very quickly. The employer will have to certify
that the worker received such a visa in one of the past three years in
order for the applicant to be exempt from the cap. Those who use the H-2B
program should contact their attorney or business advisor to determine
how the change may affect them.
Legislative successes like these are made possible by voluntary contributions
from NTRA members purchasing horses at public auction and registering
foals with The Jockey Club. These designated funds flow to the NTRA’s
Legislative Action Campaign for federal lobbying in Washington, D.C. Donations
to the NTRA Political Action Committee (Horse PAC) also enable the Thoroughbred
industry to make contributions to national political parties and candidates
for federal office who support the industry’s legislative agenda.
For more information about the NTRA’s legislative programs, visit
our Web site www.SupportHorseRacing.org
or call Joe Clabes, Director of Industry Relations, at (800) 792-NTRA
(6872) or e-mail email@example.com.