Garden City raises new questions about horse race gambling proposal

csewell@idahostatesman.comNovember 20, 2013 

Instant racing gambling machines at Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Ky. A case is pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court on the legality of the machines.

LUKE SHARRETT — Lexington Herald-Leader

Garden City has prepared a list of questions it would like answered during Ada County's Nov. 26 public meeting on a proposal to install a new type of horse race gambling system, called instant racing or historical racing, at the county-owned Les Bois Park.

Garden City says it has a vested interest in what happens at the county's 240-acre Expo Idaho. The complex is within Garden City limits but it has not been annexed into the city. Even though it is not part of the city or under the city's control, the city is still responsible for providing police and other services.

Some of the questions raised by Garden City:

What plan does Treasure Valley Racing have in place for on-site security at the Turf Club during the 16 hours a day/seven days a week the facility will be open for gambling?

What plan does Ada County have in place for the additional Ada County Sheriff Department presence at the facility as first responders to minimize the impact on our small police department?

Your initial plan is for 200 machines with an indication that this could go to 400 machines. Such an expansion would attract more people and would add significant pressure on the Garden City Police Department as well as North Ada Fire & Rescue and Ada County Paramedics. What plans do you have to mitigate that impact and who will pay for it?

The contemplated gambling has been described as a "predatory industry." What steps will Ada County, via their agreement with the lessee, take to provide appropriate identification counseling for predatory victims?

Questions have been raised about this type of gambling being unconstitutional. What is the Commissioners response to this?

Ada County is considering amending its lease with Treasure Valley Racing, a private company that operates Les Bois Park, to allow instant racing at the Turf Club, which would be remodeled to accommodate the machines.

Instant racing uses devices resembling slot machines that allow players to wager on video replays of previously run races. The player puts money in the machine (10 cents to $5), selects a race and receives statistical information on the horses, their trainers and jockeys; names and racetrack location are not revealed. The player then selects three horses and presses start, then a video of the race plays revealing the winners.

This year the Idaho Legislature enacted a law allowing instant racing in Idaho. Four other states allow this type of wagering. Wyoming and Oregon approved it this year; Kentucky and Arkansas began offering it a few years ago.

Proponents say this new wagering option will provide more revenue to the cash-strapped horse racing industry.

Opponents say these are slot machines, which are unconstitutional in Idaho, and the county-owned Turf Club is being turned into a casino.

The Idaho chapter of Stop Predatory gambling, which opposes instant racing, issued a flyer "Stop the Video Slot Machine Casino at Expo Idaho," stating the video slots are addictive, will lead to an increase in crime and bankruptcy among other problems.

On Nov. 26, Treasure Valley Racing LLC officials will make a public presentation on the benefits of instant racing during the county public meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in main floor hearing room of the Ada County Courthouse, 200 W. Front St.

Read the opposition's flyer:

Read Garden City's Nov. 14 letter to Ada County:

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