Idaho Repeals Instant Horse Racing Bill, Tribes Praise Legislature

Jack McNeel

On March 26, the Idaho House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 1011 by a vote of 49-21. That bill had been introduced by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe along with support from other Idaho tribes to repeal instant horse racing machines from being used in Idaho.

In a statement released by the tribe, Coeur d’Alene Chairman Chief Allan said, “We commend the legislature for having the courage to take up this important and contentious issue. We appreciate that they took the time to thoroughly examine the matter, and separate facts from emotion.”

Chairman Allan had earlier commented that these new slot-style gaming machines posed a serious threat to their casinos, and reduced expansion of these machines was the tribe’s primary priority this legislative session.

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Four of Idaho’s five tribes had jointly signed a letter last January to the governor and attorney general of Idaho expressing their concern for illegal expansion of casino gaming under the guise of “historical horse racing.” The tribe argued that the machines were glorified slot machines because they have spinning wheels and blinking lights, and its only connection to horse racing is a small one-inch-by-two-inch window on the bottom of the screen that briefly shows a horse race. Slot machines are illegal according to Idaho law.

The bill now goes to Gov.  C.L. “Butch” Otter’s office to await his signature.


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