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Eye On Boise

Testimony from Les Bois Park: Without instant racing, ‘It will close’

As the hearing on repeal of “instant racing” gambling machines in Idaho gets going again this morning, a bit late, Senate State Affairs Chairman Curtis McKenzie offered this “roadmap:” “We are going to continue with the testimony from the people who signed up to testify from the 9th. And then we will allow the sponsor to close, and hopefully the committee will take some action today rather than having to defer it to another meeting.”

First up to testify this morning was John Sheldon, president of Treasure Valley Racing, operators of Les Boise Park. He said the park just west of Boise currently employs 98 people, and at its seasonal peak employs over 200. “Last year, based on a law passed in 2013, we invested about $4 million on facilities and equipment,” Sheldon said. “If this bill passes, Idaho will lose at least a million dollars in tax revenue and Idaho business people will lose over $10 million. What kind of message does this send … to businesses that are considering moving to Idaho to start a business?”

Sheldon said Les Bois Park lost $1.5 million in 2014. If instant racing is repealed, he said, “It will close.” “Historical racing in Idaho has passed the tests and satisfied the audits,” Sheldon told the senators. “I urge you to focus on the test results and audits provided by the Idaho State Racing Commission rather than … perceptions of what the machines look like. .. Give us an opportunity to continue working to save the horse racing industry in Idaho.”

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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