The bill carried by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, would have removed current state law that says video gambling machines at tribal casinos in Idaho are not illegal slot machines.
Thursday, after two days of testimony, the House State Affairs Committee voted 8-7 to hold the bill in commitee, killing it for this session.
Loertscher earlier this month 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.
Thursday, he argued the bill “is not about banning tribal gaming. There’s nothing contained therein that does anything of the kind,” reports the Spokesman-Review. If tribes’ gaming machines already comply with the Idaho Constitution, he said, “this bill will have no effect.”
But other lawmakers were skeptical, the Spokesman-Review reports. “I just don’t believe that the purpose is to only reconcile Idaho Code with the Constitution,” said Rep. Dustin Manwaring, R-Pocatello.
Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, said he objects to gambling but didn’t believe the bill would in any way help the state remove gaming machines, from tribal casinos or any other location — also referencing the horse racing machines. “I believe it will put us into a lawsuit that we will not win,” he said.
Chief Allan, chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, welcomed the vote’s result in a news release later Thursday morning.
“It’s discouraging to see a bill like this come up,” he said, “but we are pleased that the committee members recognized the confusion that would be created by this bill and saw fit keep it from moving any further.”