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Eye On Boise

New bill goes after tribal gaming in Idaho on ‘moral,’ constitutional grounds

Opponents of tribal gaming in Idaho brought new legislation this morning to go after tribes' casinos, charging that they violate the Idaho Constitution. "The purpose of this is to again establish legislative control over the gambling in the state of Idaho," former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Robert Bakes, a gambling opponent, told the Senate State Affairs Committee. Current tribal casinos in Idaho are legal under a voter-approved initiative and under compacts negotiated with the state, and they've survived multiple reviews in court. But Bakes and anti-gambling activist Mike Duff said they want to launch a new legal attack; their bill authorizes a new lawsuit by the state against tribal gaming, and would require legislative approval of any future gaming compacts or amendments to existing compacts.

Duff said the two represent "United Families Idaho," and said, "We are Idaho's largest non-partisan, non-sectarian pro-family advocacy group. We utilize social science research to validate the moral and legal standards by which the institution of the family is maintained and preserved in Idaho. We are here today with this RS because we're very concerned about Article 3, Section 20 of the Idaho Constitution. We believe that constitutions are where the people establish their highest standards of morals and values, and we're concerned about activities which seems to be circumventing that particular section." The bill also would place restrictions on Idaho Lottery games, which Duff said his group believes are moving toward unconstitutional electronic games.

Duff said his group would like to see the Legislature consider and pass the bill as quickly as possible, but committee Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, said if the committee voted to introduce the measure this morning, he'd told the sponsors that's as far as it would go in his panel. "We wouldn't have hearings beyond that if it comes back to committee," McKenzie said. The committee then voted, in a divided voice vote, to introduce the measure.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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