BOISE, Idaho (AP) — In a story Feb. 9 about legislation on instant horse racing terminals, The Associated Press erroneously reported the name of the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee chairman. He is Curt McKenzie, not Curt McZenzie.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Senate committee listens to instant horse racing testimony
Idaho Senate committee begins testimony on instant horse racing repeal bill
By KIMBERLEE KRUESI
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Proponents of Idaho's lucrative slot-like machines argue that the state's racetracks will go out of business if lawmakers outlaw instant horse racing.
The Senate State Affairs Committee listened to nearly three hours of testimony Monday from various horse-racing industry representatives urging members not to ban the betting machines.
The committee is currently considering legislation backed by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe that would abolish instant racing in Idaho. Chairman Curt McKenzie said the committee will likely vote on sending the bill to the Senate floor on Wednesday.
Instant racing — betting on a previous race without any identifiable information — has been legal in Idaho since 2013. Slot machines have been banned in Idaho since the 1950s, but instant-racing proponents argue that the machines are permitted under Idaho's legalized pari-mutuel betting. Pari-mutuel betting requires bettors to place their wages all in one pool and the house only takes a percentage.
"Pari-mutuel racing is the only way to fund and to keep alive horse racing in the nation," said Gary Stevens, a Hall of Fame jockey and Idaho native, testifying against the repeal bill. "Historical horse racing is a new way to pay patrons. The states that have authorized instant racing know that it has saved their horse-racing industry."
Live horse racing has been on a steady decline in Idaho and across the nation because of the rise in other forms of gambling. However, the machines' popularity has given the horse racing industry a new sense of hope. Three out of Idaho's eight racetracks have roughly a combined 250 machines expected to result in high profit margins.
"We were told this was about saving the horse racing industry," said Helo Hancock, representing the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. "I find it somewhat ironic that two of the three racetracks that have instant racing have never been live horse-racing tracks. This is not about live racing. This is about casino gambling."
During Monday's hearing, lawmakers focused most of their questions on the skill needed to play the machines.
Louis Cella, from a company called Race Tech LLC that developed the instant racing machines, said that unlike a slot machine, instant racing doesn't rely on random number generators to determine a winner.