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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Idaho tribes call ‘instant racing’ machines an ‘illegal hoax’

The chairmen of four Idaho Indian tribes are calling on the state’s governor and Attorney General to end the spread of so-called “instant racing” betting machines – like those at the Greyhound Park in Post Falls and Les Bois Park near Boise – saying they violating Idaho’s gambling laws.

The machines purport to be a new form of “pari-mutuel” betting on horse races, which is legal in Idaho; that’s betting where a pool of bettors splits the winnings. But the machines don’t display current horse races; they show a snippet of the end of an unidentified past horse race. The tribal chairmen called the spread of the new machines an “illegal hoax.” They were approved by state lawmakers the year before last at the urging of Idaho’s horse racing industry, which said allowing betting on past, or “historical” horse races, would help cash-strapped racetracks continue to be able to offer live racing.

When the slot machine-like machines, which have tiny screens on which the last few seconds of one horse race after another is shown while operators bet and reels spin with symbols, started showing up at Idaho tracks last spring, some lawmakers said they’d been “duped.” So far, the instant racing machines have been installed at the Greyhound Park, Les Bois Park near Boise and an off-track sports bar in Idaho Falls.

“All you have to do is go play them and ask yourself if you are actually betting on a horse race,” said Chief Allan, chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. “It’s a hoax that has consistently been found illegal in other states and these machines will continue to make a mockery out of the law until Idaho does something to stop it.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.



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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