Friday March 27,2015 : HORSE RACING SLOTS ARE OUT IN IDAHO
After only two years, enabling legalization is about to be repealed.
Idaho's flirtation with virtual horse racing machines is about to come to an end after just two years, during which the 200 machines located in horse racing venues throughout the state became popular additions to the gaming facilities.
On Thursday the state House supported a Senate vote of 25 to 9 to repeal the enabling legalization – passed in 2013 – by voting for repeal 49 to 21 after a short debate.
The bill has been sent to the state governor, Republican Gov. C.L. Otter for his approval, which legislators expect to happen soon.
The House vote was remarkable, given that many of the members who voted the legalization in two years ago, voted for its repeal this week, claiming that they had been duped, and that the horse racing machines were nothing more than slot machines in disguise.
"We thought we were supporting a game of skill. It turns out, that isn't what we got," Republican Rep. Luke Malek, who voted in favour of the repeal, said. "We have to take responsibility."
Among the lawmakers against the repeal was Republican Rep. Christy Perry, who sponsored the bill in 2013. She argued passionately that repealing the law could be a severe and possibly fatal strike at the state racing industry, which is already under pressure, and pleaded to no avail with her political colleagues to instead add more guidelines or a regulatory board.
"It's blowing everything out of the water," she said. "They've [race courses] invested millions. People's jobs are on the line.
"I can't think of another instance when we went out and just yanked the rug out from somebody without allowing them due process. It really isn't our place to decide constitutionality."
Race course owners were not happy either, with John Sheldon of Treasure Valley Racing commenting:
"The fate of an industry, including more than 500 jobs, millions in positive economic impact for the state and the ownership group's right to due process will now be placed solely in the hands of the governor."
Idaho law only permits three types of gambling – the Idaho lottery, tribal gambling on reservations, and horse racing, or pari-mutuel betting.