Voters in Idaho Block Initiative to Allow Historical Horse Racing

During the November mid-term elections, Idaho voters rejected an initiative that would have allowed historical horse race wagering in the state with 54.2% voting against the measure.

Proposition 1 was an amendment under consideration on the November mid-term ballot in Idaho that would have allowed venues offer historical horse racing on gaming terminals showing recordings of old horse races where players could gamble on the outcome. More than 50% of the voters checked no on their ballots.

Millions spent on both sides

As the mid-term vote approached, proponents and opponents of the measure spent millions to influence voters. The initiative was a move by the Treasure Valley Racing owners to have the betting machines legalized, hoping to help boost purses and subsidize racetracks in the state while also assisting the live horse racing industry.

Those in favor of Proposition 1 said that the change would increase the economy and give a boost to live horse racing, providing much-needed funds for local schools. Those opposed believe that the gambling expansion would start the state on a path to increased casinos and more gambling. Currently, Idaho offers only tribal-operated gaming venues and no commercial casinos.

Idaho United Against Prop 1 Ken Andrus and Ernie Stensgar said: “Today’s vote proves what we’ve been saying all along—Proposition 1 was a bad bet for Idahoans. Idahoans do not want a statewide expansion of casino-style gambling. Idaho United Against Prop 1 is grateful for the thousands of state, local, and tribal community leaders, businesses, elected officials, educators, and families who helped us share the truth about Prop 1 with Idahoans and to the voters who saw through the deception of this ballot initiative and chose to vote no.”

Long, drawn-out fight

The fight for historical horse racing has been a long one in the state. This type of racing alternative offers players an opportunity to place a wager on horse races of the past. The races are replayed on a video screen without any information provided that would identify the race. Players wager on the outcome of each race by using a terminal.

In 2013, the state legislature of the state approved the historical racing option. However, lawmakers repealed the measure just two years later. It was believed at the time that the terminals were too similar to slot machines instead of being more like video replay machines. The repeal was vetoed by Governor Butch Ottery in April of 2015 but was not completed in time to change the decision.

Under Proposition 1, the state would have had to approve locations that could offer the historical live gaming option. To be approved, a track would have been required to provide a minimum of eight days of races a year. The state racing commission and local county commission would also have had to approve sites.

If the measure had passed, the monetary breakdown from wagering would have provided 90 cents on every dollar to the bettor. Nine cents would have gone to expanding race purses and operator profit. The state’s Racing Commission would earn one cent with a half-cent going towards public schools.