Federal agencies issue revised regulations on pari-mutuel withholding

Posted: Dec. 29, 2016

A sustained lobbying effort has resulted in the United States Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service issuing revised regulations that are expected to help increase pari-mutuel handle by allowing players to keep more of their winnings.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which spearheaded the effort, said Dec. 29 the federal agencies have issued new regulations in a document titled “Withholding Payments of Certain Gambling Winnings.” The regulations clarify the amount of a wager to include the entire amount bet into a specific pool by a gambler rather than the winning base unit—as long as all wagers made into the pool are on a single tote ticket when betting is done on site.

The NTRA said the regulations wouldn’t impact the way bets are made through advance deposit wagering systems.

The proposed regulations, which are subject to a 90-day comment period, are designed to positively impact a significant percentage of winning wagers, particularly those involving multi-horse or multi-race exotic wagers. Industry officials have said if bettors keep more of their winnings, the result should be “tens of millions of dollars” in pari-mutuel churn.

The NTRA said it will establish a method by which industry stakeholders can easy comment on the proposed regulations. A similar effort in 2015 resulted in almost 12,000 comments submitted to the federal government.

The regulations if adopted could be in place by the 2017 Triple Crown.

The Treasury and IRS cited numerous specific examples provided by the NTRA as reasons for the need to modernize the withholding system and also referred to the many comments it received from individuals in support of the proposed changes.

“This is a tremendous step forward in our ongoing efforts to modernize pari-mutuel regulations to accurately reflect today’s wagering environment,” NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Waldrop said in a release. “The NTRA remains thankful to everyone who has engaged in this process, including numerous industry stakeholders, horseplayers, members of Congress, governors and other elected officials, especially Congressmen John Yarmuth (of Kentucky) and Charles Boustany (of Louisiana), who led the congressional effort. A unified message has gotten us to this point and we encourage everyone to continue to work through the channels we will be establishing as we seek to push these proposed regulations across the goal line.”

The federal rulemaking document is available here.