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Eye On Boise

Otter issues veto message on SB 1011, instant racing repeal bill

Gov. Butch Otter has issued his veto message on SB 1011, the bill to repeal “instant racing” in Idaho. You can read it here. It includes a letter to the state Racing Commission asking for an indefinite moratorium on the addition of any new instant racing machines at existing facilities, or licensing of any new locations for the gambling machines.

In his veto message, Otter wrote, “It is my firm intention to limit and restrict this type of gambling in Idaho to race tracks.” However, two of the current locations are not race tracks: The machines are at the Greyhound Park Event Center in Post Falls, a former dog-racing track that has never had horse racing; and the Double Down Betting Bar & Grill in Idaho Falls, which is affiliated with the Sandy Downs racetrack but is miles away from it. The third location is Les Bois Park in Boise, a county-owned racetrack.

Otter wrote, “In my view, a precious part of Idaho’s western culture is at stake. There are some actions that can be taken, even in the waning days of this legislative session, to salvage something for the many Idahoans whose livelihoods and lifestyles are tied to traditional horse racing. For instance, legislators still could act quickly to restrict historical horse racing to existing tracks as was envisioned in 2013. I also would welcome creation of a Gaming Commission to help fulfill the Legislature’s constitutional responsibility to oversee pari-mutuel racing.”

Otter said his direction to the state Racing Commission gives it “the opportunity this very day to ensure that legislative intent is recognized in its reconsideration of an off-track facility’s proposed operation in Idaho Falls.” 

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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