Prop 1: Will it save Idaho horse racing or does it promote unfair gambling practices?

Posted at 5:17 PM, Sep 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-07 19:46:06-04

Les Bois Park in Garden City hasn't hosted a horse race since September of 2015 when the track shut down it created a ripple effect in the horse racing industry.

In November voters will have a chance to decide on Prop One if passed it would allow horse tracks in Idaho who host more than eight races to have historic horse racing gambling terminals.

Proponents of horse racing believe this will save an industry that has been struggling to survive without the revenue from the gambling terminals.

"Just in the fifteen months that this historical racing happened, we paid out more than a million dollars to the jockeys and the horses that ran," said Myron Amsden the former president of the Idaho Horse Council. "We also paid more than $700,000 to the schools."

Opponents say they are against Prop One because the horse racing industry is struggling and that allowing them to use gambling machines to supplement the industry sets a dangerous precedent.

"Expanding gambling to a private business is a slippery slope, I think it is poor public policy," said Garden City Mayor John Evans. "We have a lot of different businesses who struggle to stay in business."

In 2015 when historical horse racing was allowed three different tracks utilized the terminals, however, Les Bois brought in 85 percent of that money.

Les Bois received almost $1.4 million, a track in Idaho Falls received $200,000 and one in Couer d'Alene got $21,000 and proponents for Prop One said the loss of this revenue has had a negative impact on Idaho families including Amsden who creates horseshoes.

"There is the feed, the hay, veterinarians, and the jockeys I've personally known two families that have moved out of state."

For Mayor John Evans it comes back to the gambling, horse racing is legal in Idaho, gambling on live horses is allowed, but Evans said betting on historical horse racing is the same as playing a slot machine.

"I think the issue for me is that is a casino-style gambling and vehicle used to create that expansion is horse racing," said Evans. "If we want to expand gambling lets be straight up about it."

Here's a link to the Idaho State Constitution and what it says about gambling.