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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Instant racing: ‘A long and dubious history around the country’

Helo Hancock, legislative liaison for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, told the Senate State Affairs Committee this morning, “We are here today because there has been an unparalleled expansion of casino gaming in Idaho under the façade of wagering on horse races.” He said the way that “historical horse racing” was presented to the Legislature in 2013 was “to be virtually identical to live simulcast racing except the race would have been already run.” Lawmakers were assured that the move wouldn’t create “racinos,” or casinos at racetracks, but Hancock said that’s what it’s brought about with the slot machine-like “instant racing” terminals.

He showed videos of the machines in use. The player pushed a button, music played and cherries spun, and the player won or lost; then the process was repeated. “You can be paid without even picking a horse,” he said. “The machines we see today at the racinos in Idaho are not what were presented to the Idaho Legislature two years ago. They’re not legal, and they must be stopped.”

Hancock said the tribe hired an expert to evaluate the machines, and she determined that they are not “pari-mutuel” betting, or pooled betting as occurs on horse races, but slot machines. Various states have reached the same conclusion, he said. “This has a long and pretty dubious history around the country.”

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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