Horse Race Ads Run On Muddy Track

Advertisements airing on Idaho media outlets would have you believe that a vote in favor of proposition 1 on the November 6 election ballot would return horse racing to Idaho.

That may not be a very good bet. Betsy Russell over at the IDAHO PRESS has posted an analysis of the ads which are deceiving at best and downright wrong at worst.

Even if the measure were to be overwhelmingly approved by voters, the finish line will be with the IDAHO STATE CONSTITUTION.

Here is the CONSTITUTION applicable section:

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.

The GUARDIAN repeatedly pointed out the so-called “historical racing terminals” were nothing more than slot machines. Proponents claim the slot machines–complete with sounds and graphics–were really pari-mutuel instant racing terminals. They claim to allow gamblers to bet on past races from a menu of 60,000 races.

The machines accept money as fast as you can pump it in…all this has nothing to do with horses. We dubbed it “horseless racing” several years ago. While the legislature approved the machines in 2013, they repealed the law in 2015 saying they had been duped because the machines were actually slots.

Unless the promoters have some new device that will pass muster with the Supremes, we don’t expect to see any ponies in the starting gates soon.

Proponents would be better advised to spend their money buying legislator’s favor rather a public vote. In Idaho, only the legislature can initiate the needed constitutional amendment. It requires a 2/3 approval of both houses and followed by a simple majority of voters.

Wikipedia has a very good HISTORICAL SUMMARY of the instant racing issue, including court citations.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden prepared an ANALYSIS of the petition for Secretary of State Lawrence Denney in January which also questioned the constitutionality of the instant racing terminals.

PAST GUARDIAN posts on this topic.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Ads Are Misleading
    Aug 20, 2018, 1:57 pm

    I find the media ads VERY, VERY misleading.

    They do not mention betting at all and I am sure that is on purpose. They know they will loose if they mention betting or gambling.

    THe effort is simply dishonest.

  2. It actually does have a LOT to do with horse racing. IT is the money maker that allows the money loser to exist.
    Without the “slot machines” the actual horse racing is not going to happen.

    For a “Republican” state that supposedly believes in the “freedom of the individual”, free-enterprise, and laissez-faire, Idaho’s legislature is anything but that.

  3. Are we willing to let any business use gambling because they can’t make it otherwise? Or just the horse folks? Looks like a bail out to me.

  4. western guy
    Aug 20, 2018, 3:37 pm

    Gambling is illegal, and the proceeds of such don’t need to support real horse racing. Why can’t real horse racing support itself?

    Also, has anyone noticed that Todd Dvorak, the mouthpiece for this gambling initiative, used to work for the state Attorney General, and was fired when he was caught with weed in his possession? I don’t recall the specifics, but it might have been at airport security.

    EDITOR NOTE–Normally we would not allow the Dvorak comment, but since the story was covered in legacy media (and the GUARDIAN) while he was working for the AG, and he is now representing a public issue, we will let it stand. As we recall, he had been in Washington where weed was legal and got busted at airport security in Lewiston. He quit rather than face dismissal.

  5. Bieter Begone
    Aug 20, 2018, 5:33 pm

    Apparently we have a lot of bluenoses in this state. Gambling is illegal! Eek!

    Except on Indian reservations. And the Idaho State Lortery. And the NCAA basketball pools.

    I have no probables with the machines. If you don’t want to out your money in them, don’t. I want the horse racing to come back. If you don’t want to watch the racing, don’t. I will vote yes.

  6. The Idaho Statesman isn’t doing too well. Maybe they should install slot machines and horse race machines in the empty space where the presses and reporters used to be.

  7. Trust me Idaho City needs instant horse racing machines more than the Horse racing folks…. which begs a question… where do you draw the line?

  8. Ads are not misleading
    Aug 21, 2018, 8:52 am

    The ads appropriately express the sentiment regarding the double bind that the proprietors of Les Bois were forced into. The legislators had the opportunity to see, ask about, and approve or not the historical racing machines. They said yes. I believe the legislation is to make the exception to the “gambling” restrictions in the constitution so the machines can be put back in use. It supports the live racing, and it does support schools. It also helps to provide many jobs in one of the world’s oldest forms of entertainment.

    Other times I can think of that the legislature talked out of both sides of their mouth are the current issue of the referendum on property, and term limits. Both times they say to the public, the people, the citizens, P*** off, we are the overlords. We are the pious guardians off all we can control.

    If they truly care about public consequences, then then need to have kindergartens and better schools.

    EDITOR NOTE–AQND the proponents will tell you they can financed those schools with horse racing! 🙂

  9. The folks who run and work around the track are not wealthy, but the horse crowd pushing this have deep pockets and stand to makes a bundle off a government franchise to own a casino. I love to gamble but hate this approach. Millionaires get a casino in Ada County to the exclusion of everyone else. The comment about Idaho City is right on. If the state is going to allow slot machines, open it up to the local governments to opt into the gravy train.

  10. Ads are not…. Your schools do not need more gambling!

    The ads say nothing about the core issue. GAMBLING

    The ads hide the fact that the issue is whether or not GAMBLING is going to be allowed at tracks in Idaho. The GAMBLING is done via betting on historic horse races – it has nothing to do with the horses running on the tracks at any Idaho location.

    The entire issue is about GAMBLING and the ads hide that fact.

  11. Many of us were here when lottery came into Idaho. Lordy Lordy it was going to solve all of the school problems ( same as the sales tax). A chicken in every pot so to speak.

    The lottery has been changing the line for gambling since it was legal. Look at the new “pull tabs”

    Same with the liquor stores. Back in the day they had short hours and closed on Sunday. Not now! Heck I can show you liquor stores that are now almost next to schools…

    Pot meet Kettle as far as instant racing goes. Then you have the Indian gambling in the mix.

    If the State of Idaho wants to pass judgement on gambling maybe they should stop the Lottery…Which I think should happen… but never will.

  12. Fred Garvin
    Aug 21, 2018, 7:55 pm

    Pure hypocracy! Sure is A-Ok for the state to run the liquor racket, gambling outfit (lottery), give gambling preference and okay to the tribes, threaten to “condemn” private property for a college baseball stadium, hi-jack property owners year after year with unprecedented tax hike, etc., etc.

    But, noooooooo. You, private citizen, can’t place a private bet because it’s…GAMBLING. OooooooooH.

  13. It’s interesting that the Constitution’s wording doesn’t reference sports betting, another hot topic nationally.

    A more direct angle for the horse racing supporters (or is this really only about Les Bois?) would be to loosen or eliminate this wording with an amendment. It would be nice if the legislature interpreted the upcoming vote as a referendum on such an amendment, regardless of its constitutionality. My suspicion is that an amendment loosening gambling restrictions has very little chance to get through the legislature. Does anyone have insight into that?

  14. The horse racing folks bet on the wrong nag in the Governor’s race. They put their money on Tommy Ahlquist. They blamed Butch/Little for not signing the bill to allow instant racing.(well it was signed but a Little ha ha too late) Little knows they don’t support him.

    Then you got Paulette Jordan… from Northern Idaho… past Finance Chair and Energy Initiative Chair for the National Indian Gaming Association. Will she support instant horse racing when the tribes have been against it? I think not.

    Will be very surprised if the machines that are now turned off and covered at Les Bois will ever be turned on again.

    Will the State of Idaho quit expanding the Lottery…. I think not.

    Jackpot is only 2 1/2 hours away and Cactus Pete sends a bus down every week if you have to do slot machines.

  15. I will always vote for freedom and choices for the people. We do not need elected officials micro-managing the lives and choices of the citizens.

    I resent the lack of respect the government gives me, by forcing me to live by laws that are designed to manage the lowest common denominator in our society. In so doing, we are relegated into the same box as the lowest common denominator.

  16. Ads are not misleading
    Aug 22, 2018, 7:35 pm

    You’re all in your own vein acting like betting on horses or historical machines are the death of society. Neither are.

    Sarcasm is saying that lottery and horse racing promised to save education. They did not make such promises, they (politicos, businessmen, horsemen, convenience stores who sell lottery) offer to share the robust earning of a mostly recreational endeavor that provides jobs, entertainment, excitement, bookmarks, and a few DUI’s for Garden City on a regular basis. Also though, filling restaurants, shopping carts, and gas tanks. What should we do on Saturday nights, in the summer, in the city?

    Sarcasm is saying this would be a way to save Idaho City; let them have historical racing machines. But they don’t have a track so they can’t. And who would drive that route? The race track (and the baseball stadium) is convenient for about five municipalities and many tourists who enjoy a horse race and appreciate a payout for an informed bet with a risk. You can do both on the same night!!

    I’m getting the vibe that many contributors think it is not in the best interest of anyone to continue racing if it involves historical machines. But they were already approved once – and if you think they are slots then this new vote is the exception to allow historical racing machines. It is 2018, and this is offering a choice for citizens.

    Isn’t that ok? Can we allow something to continue because it is here, and it is a thing people do? We don’t have to take the same principle and apply it to everything.

    Such as parking garages supporting paying for development. Or taxes paying for sports teams for colleges. Or your property taxes paying for sidewalks 10 miles away? Or the price of you medications supporting free medications elsewhere. Using small cars to support the heavier vehicles on the road.

    I say the ads are not misleading. That is our environment today – yes to the horse thing. No to the ACHD thing.

    EDITOR NOTE–Given your logic, the legislature has “already banned the slot machines.” The real issue is whether or not the machines are really slots. Slots are banned by the Idaho constitution and all the petitions and votes in the world cannot change that. Only the legislature can initiate a constitutional amendment, not the citizens.

  17. JJ, Normally I would totally agree with you. But in this case, the horse people have spun the issue to the point that I am not sure I can support it. In spite of what the ads say, it’s about bailing out an industry that can’t make it on its own. And spinning the issue to avoid calling it what it is—gambling. They BS’d the legislature (not that that’s a huge accomplishment). Further, I don’t see any reason why the County should be in the entertainment business to begin with. Just my thoughts.

  18. Again, this will be a state sanctioned franchised casino for a bunch of rich guys. It will be a cash cow with live racing as the straw man. I agree with Dave that these are slot machines which will be struck down by the Courts. The legal gymnastics that the AG went through to link these to pari-mutuel betting is baffling.

  19. Like I said those of us that were here when we were sold the lottery in the State. We were told that it would solve all of the school funding/ repair issues…Heck I remember one commercial that said the probably our State income tax would go down.

    For sure they have given money to the school but the only big winners that I know of is Brad Duke and Pam Hiatt. Schools still need repairs… need bonds…and more tax money.

    I wish that some one would tell the Horse racing folks that it is a dying sport… Facts are jobs are going begging now in Ada county. If they don’t have racing the folks can still get a job…. and maybe a full time job not just part time when the horses are running.

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