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Eye On Boise

Spinning reels, instant win/loss is ‘default setting’ for instant racing machines

Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, told Coeur d’Alene Racing General Manager Doug Okunewicz he was here two years ago when the “historical racing” law was proposed to lawmakers, and he read from testimony of then-Racing Commission Director Doug Lamb, saying bettors using the machines would study races the horse has won that year, races won on a particular surface, and other information, and “the bettors then use that information to decide which horses are likely to run in first, second or third place. … We saw example of the machine here today. I didn’t see any of that.” Luker asked Okunewicz how to square that description with the slot machine-like terminals in use today.

Okunewicz said, “I could probably see the horses, but I know what I’m looking for.” In the video shown this morning to the committee, “The person that was operating the device was not operating it correctly, and could not get to the part where you can manually select your horses.” He said the “default setting” on the machines is not to show any of that information, and simply to allow speedy betting with a view of spinning reels. “They all have the capability of watching the race,” Okunewicz said, “and the default is set to not do that first. That’s how those games work.” When Luker asked how many people go through the information rather than just instantly betting and winning or losing, Okunewicz said he has no data. “My impression is that most of them don’t rely on the handicapping,” he said. “They allow the machine to help them with that. Most of them prefer the small screen race and the spinning reel output. It’s sort of supply and demand – that’s why they exist.”

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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