The use of tribal video gaming machines in Idaho, broadly authorized by a 2002 voter initiative, would be restricted to comply with a state constitutional ban on slot machines under a measure introduced in a House committee Wednesday.
“If it’s a slot machine it’s not authorized for use in the state of Idaho,” sponsor Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, told the House State Affairs Committee. “I guess we can’t have it both ways.”
Loertscher said the measure was not an attempt to “get even” with tribes that spearheaded a successful 2015 effort to have the Legislature ban similar machines at state racetracks. Supporters of such “instant” horse racing machines, which replay horse races from the past, are still searching for ways to bring them back.
Two Democrats voted against introducing the bill, while several committee members who supported it expressed reservations. The bill will come back to the committee for a full hearing.
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Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe, said the legality of the gaming machines had been well settled by previous lawsuits, multiple audits, and regulations by the tribes and the National Indian Gaming Commission. She voted against the measure in committee after announcing a potential conflict of interest.
“The tribes have never gone beyond what is agreeable in the (gaming) compact or with the state constitution,” she said. “Tribes are not operating slot machines.”
She said the measure was an effort to “portray the tribes operating in a negative light.”