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Eye On Boise

Nonini, 3 other North Idaho lawmakers charge that tribal casinos may be conducting illegal gaming

Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, along with three other North Idaho lawmakers, has sent a letter to the director of the Idaho State Lottery charging that the gambling machines at the Coeur d’Alene Casino on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation may be illegal. “Since slot machines are clearly not allowed in Idaho, we respectfully request that you review for compliance the electronic games in use at all Idaho tribal casinos including the Coeur d’Alene Casino,” Nonini said in the letter, which also was signed by Reps. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene; Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens; and Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay.

Anderson couldn’t immediately be reached about the letter, which was dated Monday. Helo Hancock, legislative liaison for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, said, “I would say Sen. Nonini apparently hasn’t taken a look at federal laws, hasn’t taken a look at the gaming compacts, hasn’t taken a look at Proposition 1 or years of court history if he’s making accusations like that.”

Hancock said, “It’s sad to see a state senator attacking the largest employer in his district because he’s on the other side of an issue. It seems pretty reckless, but not surprising.”

The letter was copied to Gov. Butch Otter, ISP Director Co. Ralph Powell, and U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson; you can read it here.

The news of the letter surfaces as feelings are running high after this morning’s hearing on SB 1011, the bill sponsored by the tribe to repeal the 2013 law that authorized betting on “historical horse racing” in Idaho, and has led to slot machine-like “instant racing” terminals being installed in three locations in the state, including Les Bois Park in Boise, the Greyhound Park Event Center in Post Falls, and the Double Down Betting Bar 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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