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Eye On Boise

House approves betting on ‘historic’ horse races

The House has voted 58-12 in favor of HB 220, clearing the way for betting on “historical” horse races at three Idaho horse race tracks that already offer betting on simulcasts of live races; Idaho’s horse industry say it’s a new technique, drawing on databases of thousands of past races, that helps generate revenue to sustain live racing. Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, questioned whether the measure would violate state constitutional prohibitions on gambling, and asked who does such betting. Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, the bill’s lead House sponsor, said the demographics might surprise him: It’s mostly people over age 55, and mostly women.

“I’m sorry it’s the little old ladies that do most of it,” Nielsen told the House. “My wife isn’t involved.” Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, spoke out in favor of the bill. “Just to keep this industry alive is extremely difficult,” he said. “Another stream of revenue … would help the industry.” The bill now moves to the Senate side.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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