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Idaho voters face decision on instant horse racing this fall

Supporters of instant horse acing gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot this November, saying the extra revenue is needed to sustain live horse racing, which is dying off in Idaho, and related jobs. (CBS 2 file)

On November 6, voters in Idaho will be asked if they want to legalize video terminals for betting on what's called instant horse racing or historical horse racing, using machines to bet on past, previously run races.

The legislature legalized the machines used to bet on instant horse racing back in 2013.

But lawmakers repealed that legislation in 2015, declaring the video terminals too similar to slot machines, which are banned by the Idaho Constitution.

The proposition includes language that would declare that the instant horse racing machines are not slot machines.

Supporters gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot this November, saying the extra revenue is needed to sustain live horse racing, which is dying off in Idaho, and related jobs.

Former House Speaker Bruce Newcomb represents the group Save Idaho Horse Racing.

"Basically, what you're providing is a vehicle by which you can restore horse racing that was once promised by the legislature," Newcomb said, "and then taken away by the legislature, and it was working."

The machines would be allowed at locations where live and simulcast horse racing take place at least eight days a year.

But opponents say it simply promotes gambling as a subsidy for a private enterprise.

Garden City Mayor John Evans represents the group Idaho United Against Prop 1.

"The intent, of course, is to save or back-fill or subsidize their operations so they can continue live horse racing ,at least here at Les Bois Park. They still race in Eastern Idaho," said Evans. "But we have a number of industries that probably would like to have a subsidy."

Opponents say citizens who want to support horse racing can do so simply by attending races and wagering on the horses.

Under Proposition 1, a percentage of money wagered will go to public schools as well as the state racing commission and track and horse-related funds.

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