Why would anyone bet on a horse race that has already been run?
That was the often-repeated question that echoed through the halls of the Idaho Statehouse this past March as the Legislature 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. Proponents said the new form of wagering would ultimately benefit Idaho's live horse racing industry.
That cleared the track for Treasure Valley Racing to install the "instant horse racing machines" at Les Boise Park in Garden City, or so they had thought.
Months after the Idaho Legislature voted overwhelmingly to approve "historic" horse race wagering and it was signed into law by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter, Garden City officials balked at the idea, saying the machines were too much like one-armed bandits, creating a casino-like setting.
In a Nov. 22 letter to Garden City Mayor John Evans and his fellow Garden City Council members, Ada County commissioners said they were disappointed that Evans and his colleagues didn't attend a Nov. 20 meeting with representatives from Treasure Valley Racing and Expo Idaho in order to answer Garden City's concerns.
Ada County commissioners—who are the landlords of Les Bois Park—have scheduled an information meeting for this Tuesday, Nov. 26, to allow opponents and supporters of the machines to air their differences. The meeting, which had been scheduled well in advance of Garden City's comments on the matter, is open to the public, is set for 6 p.m. in the Ada County Courthouse Commissioners Public Hearing Room at 200 W. Front St. in Boise.