'Historic' Horse Race Gambling Is a Go at Les Bois Park

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Ada County Commissioners have decided to clear the track for the installation of as many as 200 "historical racing" gambling terminals at Les Bois Park, where gamblers will be able to wager on prior races (where the outcome is presumably unknown to the gambler).

More than a few people scratched their heads at the Idaho Statehouse this past March when lawmakers took up House Bill 220, which allows Idaho race tracks to offer gaming machines that permit betting on a massive database of thousand of previous races. Ultimately, the Legislature approved the measure and it was signed into law by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

Treasure Valley Racing, which operates Les Bois Park in Garden City, is anxious to install the machines, saying they would hemorrhage money, and possibly shut down the live racing operations, if they weren't able to pursue the generous revenues expected from historical racing machines.

But Garden City officials balked at the idea, saying the machines were too much like one-armed bandits, creating a casino-like setting.

Ada County Commissioners—who are the landlords of Les Bois Park—held an informational meeting on Nov. 26 to allow opponents and supporters of the machines to air their differences.

And on Dec. 19, county commissioners voted unanimously to approve the new machines at Les Bois, saying that the move would ultimately create more jobs at the facility. Treasure Valley Racing officials said they hoped to have the machines installed by spring, in time for the 2014 live racing season.