Four strong opponents of gambling, four state legislators and four tribal representatives will make up Gov. Phil Batt’s committee to study the future of Idaho gambling.
Batt announced the appointments Monday. Lt. Gov. Butch Otter will be non-voting chairman.
The committee will “collect information and gain expertise as to the social and economic costs and benefits of gaming activities,” Batt wrote in an executive order. The group will make recommendations by Nov. 1 for consideration by the Legislature next year.
Lawmakers this year rejected Batt’s attempt to tighten Idaho’s lottery law in order to limit tribal gambling. Under federal Indian gaming laws, the law that legalized Idaho’s lottery also gave tribes leeway to offer their own gambling.
Coeur d’Alene Tribe spokesman Bob Bostwick said the tribe is pleased with the “fair-minded” state legislators named to the group, and agrees that gambling opponents’ voices should be heard too. But he said the tribe hoped for more balance in views among the four citizens named to the committee.
The four state lawmakers are Reps. John Tippets, R-Bennington, and Bill Deal, R-Nampa; and Sens. Grant Ipsen, R-Boise, and Marguerite McLaughlin, D-Orofino.
The four gambling opponents are Pocatello Police Chief Lynn Harris; Dennis Mansfield, head of the Idaho Family Forum, a conservative Christian group; Episcopal Bishop John Thornton; and Boise attorney Stanley Crow, who led the unsuccessful campaign against voter approval of the state lottery.
Frank Lockwood, Batt’s spokesman, said the governor wanted a balanced committee.
“The tribes have four representatives, so there’s an intent to have balance. It is a 13-member committee, and both sides have their advocates. But no side has a lock on the outcome.”
The Kootenai Tribe will be represented by Velma Bahe, and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe will be represented by David Matheson. The Shoshone-Bannock and Nez Perce tribes also will have representatives on the committee.
The group will be asked to make recommendations on the scope of state lottery games, whether the lottery should be able to offer video gaming, how simulcast betting should be handled and state policy toward tribal gaming.