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Idaho Governor Vetoes 'Instant Racing' Repeal, Override Fails

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.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter has vetoed a repeal of so-called “instant horse racing” and has asked Idaho lawmakers to come up with a different strategy for dealing with the gambling machines in the state.

They look like slot machines and while they do use data from historical horse races, they show spinning hearts and cherries and lawmakers felt they were creating these mini-casinos across Idaho.

But the money they make has benefited the horse industry. Otter said “a precious part of Idaho’s western culture is at stake.”

Otter urged the legislature to create a gaming commission to ensure the machines are compatible with Idaho’s constitutional ban on slots.

“I met with nine different groups,” he said. “From four-and-a-half of the groups I heard they were constitutional, from four-and-a half I heard they were not constitutional. And so, I think we need somebody over the whole question, to oversee the whole question.”

Otter also suggested the legislature pass a bill that would restrict the games to tracks where people bet on simulcast races.

Lawmakers feel the machines go far beyond the horse racing games they meant to legalize in 2013. Even so, the Senate failed to muster the two-thirds majority it needed on Monday to override the governor’s veto.

The governor is halting the licensing of any more machines until a gaming commission is established. He’s also calling for a special outside investigator to assess the legality of the existing machines.