05/06/2009 12:00AM

Internet betting bill introduced

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Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts who is the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced a bill on Wednesday that would decriminalize gambling over the Internet and introduce competition to horse racing as the only form of legal online gambling.

The bill would give the Treasury Department the power to regulate online gambling. Currently, all forms of online gambling with the exception of horse racing are illegal because of the passage of a federal bill in 2006 that forced the closing of dozens of gambling sites.

In a statement released Wednesday, Alex Waldrop, the president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said that the NTRA would ask legislators "to ensure that any federal legislation that pertains to Internet gaming contains adequate protections for online parimutuel wagering on horse racing."

Horse racing gambling sites are not expected to oppose the legislation, in part because many of the companies, such as Youbet.com and TVG, might welcome the ability to offer wagering aside from racing. TVG was purchased earlier this year by Betfair, a British company that pioneered online bet-matching.

Michael Brodsky, the chief executive of Youbet.com, issued a statement Wednesday that called the legislation a "welcome and realistic approach to U.S. internet gambling." Shares of Youbet climbed 25 cents, or 10.2 percent, on Wednesday.