Idaho Senate Votes To Repeal 'Instant Racing,' Bill Heads To House

Feb 17, 2015

The Idaho Senate Tuesday passed a bill that would repeal a law allowing so-called “instant horse-racing” gambling machines. One senator said the Legislature had been the victim of a “bait and switch.”

Many of the senators agreed that the slot-like video devices that are now installed at three places in Idaho were not the historical horse race games they intended to legalize back in 2013. The question was what to do about it now.

Sen. Bob Nonini of Coeur d’Alene said there’s now too much at stake financially to completely reverse course -- for track operators who have invested in the devices, for the horse industry and for schools that benefit from the profits.

"Senators, this is a simple business decision," Nonini said. "We need to make the appropriate and the right business decision here."

Nonini said he worried the state could face costly lawsuits if it outright repeals the law.

But Sen. Brent Hill of Rexburg argued track operators should have known they were taking a risk when they installed devices that simulate slot machines.

"This is not an issue of the legislature doing an about face," Hill said. "They’re the ones who didn't keep their side of the bargain."

The Senate voted 25-to-9 in favor of repealing the law. The repeal effort now goes to the Idaho House.