Is this the end of horse racing? Idaho’s horse tracks support over 700 jobs, over $11.5 million in employee compensation and over $40 million in annual sales of goods and services annually. However, the repeal of historical horse racing by the Idaho Legislature last year could wipe this out and eliminate horse racing in the state.
Tribal casinos and the state lottery, both of which offer electronic gaming, benefited from this action as gamblers turned to them for entertainment. The losers were the horsemen, who now must take their horses and their money out of state. Restaurants, stores, farms, veterinarians, farriers and many others also are suffering as business leaves the state. And, of course, the casinos don’t pay state taxes.
A proposed bill (RS24547) submitted by the Horsemen’s Coalition offers to eliminate the unfair treatment. It would create a gaming commission that would assure that state laws are applied evenly across all “gaming devices.” Time is short for the Legislature to show that Idaho jobs and businesses are more important than preferential treatment for casinos. Why is the State Affairs Committee refusing to even consider equal treatment for horse owners?
Sam Whitford, Eagle
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