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Idaho House State Affairs Committee votes to repeal historic racing

March 20, 2015     E-mail this page to a friend!

The Idaho House State Affairs Committee voted 15-2 yesterday to repeal the 2013 law that made historic racing legal in Idaho.

In doing so, legislators signaled to Idaho taxpayers and job creators that they don't care about the tens of millions of dollars of economic impact that a healthy horse racing industry supplies to the state.

Legislators appear to be out-of-touch with hard-working equine enthusiasts, whether racing or otherwise, and in step with tribal casino lobbyists.

For example, Senator Brent Hill (R-Rexburg) said of the historic racing terminals in Senate debate, "They had lights and spinning wheels and fruits and berries all over them." But an op-ed in the Rexburg Standard Journal in December praised historic racing and its contribution to the state:

"During the first six months of operation, Historical Horse Racing generated over $500,000 in new state tax revenue and created more than 110 full-time jobs at three authorized simulcast facilities in the state."

In State Affairs Committee hearings in both the Idaho Senate and House, legislators hammered away at whether historic racing was pari-mutuel, and whether any measure of skill could be applied to historic racing. The answer to both questions was a resounding "Yes" in expert testimony, yet legislators seem intent on making lottery games-of-chance and tribal casino games-of-chance the only gaming available in Idaho.

The bill now heads to House floor debate, and if passed there, goes to Governor Butch Otter for his signature.