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'Instant Horse Racing' Repeal Heads To Idaho Governor's Desk

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network
The Greyhound Park and Event Center in Post Falls, Idaho, is one of three locations that have installed 'instant racing' machines since 2013.

A bill that would repeal so-called “instant horse racing” in Idaho is headed to the governor’s desk.

The Idaho House voted 49-21 Thursday to reverse a 2013 law that let race track operators install the electronic gambling terminals.

Operators from Idaho Falls, Boise and Post Falls urged lawmakers not to upend the law after they had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the machines.

Republican Rep. Ken Andrus said businesses have the option of suing the state to try to recoup their losses. But he said the devices are too much like slot machines -- which are illegal under the Idaho Constitution.

“I implore you to seek in the bottom of your heart -- we can fix, we can fix the financial damage,” Andrus said. “We can do that. But if we vote today to not uphold the constitution I can’t live with that. I cannot go home and live with that. And I don’t think you want that on you either.”

The instant racing machines were supposed to be simulations of horse races, based on historical racing data. But the devices now installed around Idaho feature spinning cherries, diamonds, and animation similar to casino slot machines.

Republicans on the other side said business owners shouldn’t be penalized for the legislature’s mistake and called a full repeal the “nuclear option.”