BOISE – An Idaho Senate committee agreed unanimously Friday to introduce legislation to repeal the 2013 law that authorized betting on “historical” horse races, and led to slot machine-like “instant racing” machines in three locations around the state, including the Greyhound Park in Post Falls.
The move clears the way for a hearing on the bill, which was proposed by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Representatives of Idaho’s horse industry, which pushed for the 2013 law to raise money to bolster dwindling live racing around the state, sat grimly through the meeting and huddled with two lobbyists afterward.
Members of the Senate State Affairs Committee from both parties voiced concerns about the spread of the betting machines, questioning whether they violate the Idaho Constitution’s ban on slot machines and whether they really were permitted by the law passed in 2013.
The Greyhound Park Event Center in Post Falls installed 35 of the machines last year. There are 200 at Les Bois Park just west of Boise, where the betting parlor is open until 2 a.m. daily; the Double Down Betting Bar and Grill in Idaho Falls also offers the machines, through an arrangement with Sandy Downs racetrack, which is west of town.
“It is concerning to me that any track can assign this right to any location they want, which in my opinion was not the intent of the law,” said Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, who joined in the unanimous vote Friday morning. “There’s been a lot of talk around the Capitol, and people are concerned.”
The 2013 law was pitched as a way to raise money to bolster Idaho’s horse industry through an expansion of simulcasting, betting on broadcasts of races being run elsewhere.
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s lobbyist, Bill Roden, presented the proposed repeal bill to the committee.
A day earlier, a House committee voted to hold off on considering several rule changes proposed by the state Racing Commission, including one regarding sites for the machines, after hearing concerns from Roden.
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