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Bets are off

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After operating without a required live racing permit since January 1, Treasure Valley Racing is cutting the cord on the simulcast gambling at Les Bois Park.

Idaho Code says: “No license authorizing simulcasting and/or televised races shall be issued to or renewed for persons that are not also licensed to conduct live race meets in the state of Idaho.”

While the operators had a 2015 permit and conducted live racing, simulcasts, and slot machines disguised as “historic racing,” things got held up at the gate when the Idaho legislature repealed the law that previously allowed the slot machines. They did not have a 2016 live racing permit, hence the activities since January 1 appear to be outside the law. Slots are illegal under the Idaho Constitution and legislators said the machines they approved were not the same as the machines in use. They didn’t meet the “parimutuel” exemption.

Gov. Butch Otter sided up with the race horse crowd, but screwed up on his timing with a veto to override the legislative repeal. The Idaho Supreme Court ultimately ruled the repeal stands, thus outlawing the slots. Treasure Valley Racing claimed they couldn’t afford to do live racing without subsidy from the (illegal) slot machines. The issue of whether or not the slot machines qualified as permissible parimutuel betting, was never decided. The GUARDIAN visited Les Bois and determined the machines were indeed slots. Some legislators and opponents came to the same conclusion, prompting the repeal which was approved by two-thirds of that body.

Hoping for a political solution to their business problem, the operators bet on a bill to create a gaming commission that would have allowed both simulcasts and the electronic devices (slots). With the legislature in the home stretch odds this session are against political support–remember it is an election year–so the TV screens, the track, and slots are all without the sound of hoofbeats.

Now, here’s the big incestuous issue. The Idaho State Police would be a logical agency to investigate the apparently illegal gambling since Jan. 1. If there was no Racing Commission permit for live racing, then simulcasts from other tracks were illegal. However, the Racing Commission operates under the oversight of ISP. If the live race permit has expired, simulcasts are like driving on an expired driver’s license. The system is flawed when the regulator and proponent of horse racing falls under the supervision of the enforcer, ISP.

It gets worse. The Ada County Prosecutor is the legal enforcer of the Idaho Code in Ada County, hence the logical agency to file charges for illegal operation of simulcast without a live racing permit. But that same prosecutor’s office wrote the lease contract on behalf of the Ada County Commissioners. The commishes also endorsed the political efforts of Treasure Valley Racing, signing on to an ad in the Statesman and offering testimony before the legislature in an effort to NOT repeal the slot machine bill last session. After all, it means JOBS and REVENUE!

And that folks, explains at a local level why there is so much support for the likes of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

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