Stock image courtesy of Matthew Schwarz
Two groups in Idaho are up in arms, debating certain types of legalized horse racing and betting in Idaho.
Proposition 1, or the Save Horse Racing in Idaho Act, will be on the Nov. 6 ballot for voters to decide on.
While horse racing and betting is already legal in Idaho, the new proposed law will legalize electronic systems of horse racing called “historical horse racing terminals” (or HHR terminals).
According to the law, these HHR terminals are pari-mutuel, meaning the law requires a high percentage of the money wagered be returned to bettors, unlike casino slot machines. Although the terminals have been used in Idaho since their legalization in 2013, a gubernatorial veto in 2015 shut down their use.
One group in support of Proposition 1, Save Idaho Horse Racing, claims that the revenue from HHR terminals is essential to funding purses keeping race tracks competitive with neighboring states who already allow these or other forms of gaming.
They also claim Proposition 1 will bring hundreds of jobs back to Idaho as well as $50 million in economic activity to benefit rural communities and public schools across the state “while saving the important legacy of Idaho’s horse racing industry,” according to Save Idaho Horse Racing’s website.
Those in opposition to legalizing the HHR terminals say Proposition 1 will allow unlimited expansion of gambling machines, according to Idaho United Against Prop 1. They also claim Idaho public schools may only receive 0.5 percent of gross machine revenues.
This coalition against Proposition 1 say voting “no” will protect communities against the unlimited expansion of casino-style gambling.
A large supporter of the vote “no” campaign are the Native American tribes in Idaho.
“We have joined with Idahoans all across the state and we are contributing significant resources for the Vote NO on Prop One campaign because it is deceptive and threatens our ability to provide for our community and contribute to Idaho,” said Ernie Stensgar, Chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in a news release.
Save Idaho Horse Racing claims voting “yes” on this issue will erase the monopoly held by non-taxpaying casinos often owned by the tribes.
“Historical Horse Racing terminals were legal in Idaho just a few years ago until casino interests and their lobbyists played politics-as-usual to shut them down,” according to Save Idaho Horse Racing’s website. “Yes on Prop 1 bypasses politicians and lets the people of Idaho uphold our shared values and traditions.”
Here are key facts about Proposition 1:
1. Historical Horse Racing terminals will be “Pari-mutuel,” meaning 90 percent of the pool entered into a purse will be distributed back to the bettors. This is in accordance to state law.
2. Betting on horse races is already legal in Idaho. Proposition 1 aims to allow this simulated betting system at race tracks where at least eight live horse race days are conducted annually.
3. HHR terminals can’t be activated by a handle or lever, do not dispense coins, currency, tokens or chips and can only: dispense, at the player’s request, a cash-out ticket, show on a video screen or other electronic display the results of each game played and maintain the integrity of the operations of the terminal.
4. Nine percent of the money placed into a pool will go toward the promoters. One percent is given to the Idaho State Racing Commission for distribution: One half of one percent to the Public School Income Fund, one-fourth of one percent to the racing commission account within the state’s regulatory fund, one-tenth of one percent to the track distribution account within the pari-mutuel distribution fund, one-tenth of one percent to the breed distribution account within the pari-mutuel distribution fund, to be split equally between the Idaho thoroughbred and quarter horse breeders and one-twentieth of one percent of gross daily receipts to the Idaho Horse Council youth programs account.
5. The law will go into effect as soon as it’s voted on. No further action by the executive or legislative branches of state government are required to implement the provisions of this act.