Acting on a tip from a GUARDIAN reader, we visited the game room at Les Bois Park recently and found a room with 200 slot machines being passed off as “Historic Horse Racing.”
Folks, we urge you to take a dollar or two out there — perhaps during the Western Idaho Fair. Put your money in the slot and push the button. There are cherries, melons, bars and all the usual symbols found on slot machines the world over. They flash and spin and more often than not just miss the pay line. Then, you decide if you played a slot machine game of chance or made an informed skillful decision on a historic race.
The only semblance of horse racing pops up after the machine thoughtfully selects the races and horses on your behalf as fast as you can push the button. A fuzzy cell phone-sized image displays a finish line which we challenge you to decipher. Text buried at the extreme bottom on the mini screen displays a message like, “Belmont, 6/3/98” winners 1,3,5” and you have no idea the names of the horses or their past record.
Whatever the gullible legislators of Idaho think they approved with “Historic Horse Racing on Video Terminals,” they got slot machines and according to the Idaho Constitution, slot machines are unconstitutional.
The ruse for the slots was to “save the horsemen and the racing industry in Idaho.” All it did was open up gambling on slot machines. They need 2/3 approval of the legislature followed by a simple majority of voters to change the constitution. Until that happens, we are of the opinion Ada County has approved illegal activity at county-owned facilities.
Here is the applicable section of the constitution:
Section 20. GAMBLING PROHIBITED. (1) Gambling is contrary to public policy and is strictly prohibited except for the following: a. A state lottery which is authorized by the state if conducted in conformity with enabling legislation; and b. Pari-mutuel betting if conducted in conformity with enabling legislation; and c. Bingo and raffle games that are operated by qualified charitable organizations in the pursuit of charitable purposes if conducted in conformity with enabling legislation.
(2) No activities permitted by subsection (1) shall employ any form of casino gambling including, but not limited to, blackjack, craps, roulette, poker, bacarrat, keno and SLOT MACHINES, or employ any electronic or electromechanical imitation or simulation of any form of casino gambling. (3) The legislature shall provide by law penalties for violations of this section.
Link to a good history summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant_Racing
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