Instant Horse Racing

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Legislative auditors say the Idaho Racing Commission failed to give $72,000 to public schools in 2015, but did give $286,000 to horse breeder associations that year.  

Les Bois Park Instant Horse Racing (3)
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's largest horse racing operation is closing after 40 years in business.

Les Bois Park closed its doors permanently on Sunday. Treasure Valley Racing officials say the park can't afford to stay open without horse racing terminals.

Known as instant horse racing, the machines allow bettors to place wages on prior horse races with no identifiable information. The machines have spinning wheels, sounds and animations that mimic slot machines, which are illegal in Idaho. The state ruled the terminals illegal last year.

A coalition of Idaho's horsemen groups say their best hope out of financial ruin can't even get out of the gate because lawmakers are unwilling to consider reapproving lucrative betting machines known as instant racing.

The Idaho Horsemen's Coalition announced Tuesday a proposal that would create a state gaming commission to license and regulate electronic gaming while also permitting instant racing terminals to operate in Idaho. The bill would not include oversight of the state lottery.

Les Bois Park Live Horse Racing
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Horses may no longer run at Les Bois Park in Boise. The company that runs the facility – Treasure Valley Racing – says a ban passed earlier this year on gambling machines is jeopardizing its business.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Idaho's highest court says the state must enforce legislation banning lucrative instant horse racing terminals.

In a unanimous decision issued Thursday, the court ruled that Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's veto of the legislation was invalid because he didn't complete it within the required five-day time span.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter issued the following statement today in reaction to the decision:

Screenshot / Idaho Public Television

It’s a multi-million dollar question that now stands before the Idaho Supreme Court: Should a ban on instant horse racing become law? This question was argued before the justices Tuesday.

The case is about instant horse racing machines, which some, like the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, argue are too close to illegal slot machines.