04/21/2008 11:00PM

NTRA goes political on web

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The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has launched a website designed to encourage horseplayers to get involved in legislative efforts that affect the horse racing industry.

The website, , will allow members to track legislation affecting the horse racing industry and to send messages to members of Congress, the NTRA said. The cost of joining the organization is $25 annually, which will pay for the expenses related to the site and the NTRA's lobbying efforts, according to Eric Wing, a spokesman for the NTRA.

"It's a vehicle where the collective voice of the horseplayer can be marshaled and where horseplayers can get access to the information that is affecting them," Wing said.

Any member of the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship Tour will automatically get a membership to the coalition. The fee to join the tour is $125.

The NTRA's lobbying arm has been pressing legislators to change provisions in the tax code regarding withholding on winning wagers for several years without success. NTRA officials have said that lobbying for the changes is its first priority for the 2008 legislative session, but attempts at changing the code have been resisted by many legislators who have expressed concerns that the changes appear to give breaks to gamblers.

The withholding rules require horseplayers to pay taxes on any winning wager that returns in excess of $602 at odds of 300-1 or greater. Those rules, however, disregard the amount of money the player bet on the wager. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service automatically withholds taxes on any payout in excess of $5,000. Critics of the rules say that they unfairly penalize horseplayers by failing to take into account losses.