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Eye On Boise

Otter’s office says it has no legislation in works on instant racing; tribes say they think it’s over

When Idaho Indian Affairs Council Chairman Marc Gibbs, R-Grace, asked tribal leaders on the council today to talk about “instant racing,” Chief Allan, chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, said, “We feel like the issue was voted on and it’s taken care of . ... We had our day with the bill, it passed and vetoed, then we challenged the veto and … the Supreme Court voted on it, they unplugged ‘em. So I thought it was over.”

He added, “I would hope this committee was formed to give us the opportunity to look at new bills, and if there is a new bill in the works, I would hope that we as a committee can get our hands on it, take a look at that. Because contrary to popular belief, the tribes have always wanted to be a partner. ... I’ve always wanted to work together with the state, and we will continue to work together. We may not agree on everything all the time, but I would hope that we could still move forward and be professional, and move from there. As far as instant racing, the tribes feel like the issue was put to rest.”

Bobbijo Meuleman, deputy chief of staff for Gov. Butch Otter, said the governor has no legislation in the works at this time. “There is no legislation coming from our office as of now,” she said. “The governor’s made it very clear in his veto message and his op-ed piece, he does support a gaming commission, but as far as any legislation at this time from the governor’s office, there is none.”

After the meeting, Helo Hancock, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's legislative liaison, said, "It was qualified by 'at this time,' but we'll be certainly interested to see if that changes between now and the session." As for a gaming commission, he said, "We already have a racing commission, and we already have a lottery commission. It just doesn't seem like there is a need to create another regulatory body."

The state Lottery Commission has oversight of tribal gaming, charitable bingo and other forms of gambling beyond the lottery itself. "They are the regulators under our compact," Hancock said. "We've had a good working relationship. They do their job enforcing the provisions of the compact."

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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