Idaho's Les Bois Park Will Close If State Bans Instant Racing

Mar 23, 2015

Credit Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr Creative Commons

The owners of Les Bois Park in Garden City say they'll close the facility permanently if the Idaho Legislature bans instant racing. A bill to do away with the betting terminals – which critics say too closely resemble slot machines – is making its way through the Legislature.

The Treasure Valley Racing Group (TVRG) owns and operates the park. On Monday, owners sent a letter to park employees. The letter states that if Senate Bill 1011 is signed into law, Les Bois Park would close June 30. The Senate has signed off on the bill. The Idaho House of Representatives hasn't voted on the matter.

TVRG President John Sheldon says Monday's notice is going out to 110 employees. 

"The closure will be permanent and affect the entire facility. It is expected that layoffs will begin approximately May 29, 2015 and the last day of employment for most employees will be June 30, 2015. Effective June 30, 2015, Les Bois Park will permanently close."  - Treasure Valley Racing Group

The owners say the letter serves as notice required by the U.S. Department of Labor's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. The Treasure Valley Racing Group says it will provide all employees with 60 days' pay.  

Sheldon says the letter was meant to help employees plan. He also hopes the announcement will derail the bill.

"I'm hopeful that when House members vote, they will see the severity of the situation and recognize that although there's been a lot of debate, the opponents have not provided one proof of evidence that the terminals are unconstitutional or illegal," Sheldon says. 

The Idaho Legislature passed a law two years ago to make instant racing legal. At Les Bois, owners say the live racing operation lost $1.5 million in 2014. The revenue from the terminal-based racing supplements the live schedule.

Sheldon says if the bill dies, Les Bois Park will continue operating. The park's live racing is scheduled to run from May 16-Aug. 8. 

"If Senate Bill 1011 doesn't pass, it's business as usual. Everybody's going to have a job."

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