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Eye On Boise

Legislative leaders on ‘instant racing’ terminals: ‘They sure look like slot machines to me’

Idaho legislative leaders say they’re concerned about the slot machine-like “instant racing” terminals that have begun cropping up around the state, authorized under a 2013 law aimed at allowing pari-mutuel betting on past horse races. “I think we kind of knew what we were getting into,” said Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. “I think the extent of it maybe is a surprise, how fast it’s growing, and exactly what they’re doing. The machines have been upgraded a lot since what we saw.”

Hill said as a member of the State Affairs Committee that considered the 2013 legislation, “They actually took a few of us to a bar.” Amid some chuckling at the AP Legislature Preview, Hill said, “I don’t spend a lot of time in bars – it was so dark I could hardly see the machine, but anyway, we looked at the machine, very, very different than what we’re looking at today. And I don’t believe anyone tried to intentionally mislead the Legislature. I think that maybe no one knew the extent or the technology that might hap between then and now. They may not have tumblers inside because they’re electronic, but boy, they sure look like slot machines to me now.”

Asked if he thinks Idaho laws need to be adjusted regarding the machines, Hill said, “Possibly so. It seems to me that the Constitution is clear enough, but evidently it’s not,” in banning slot machines, “so we may need to have some statutes to try to rein that in, in my opinion.”

House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said, “I think that the Legislature will not be supportive of proliferation of these.”

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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