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 While the legislature approved the machines in 2013, they repealed the law in 2015 saying they had been duped because the machines were actually slots.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.
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