Is Horse Racing What We Really Want for our Families?

October 11

Deregulating an industry and celebrating Idaho’s great western history normally sound like a good idea. However, making sure the means of reaching these goals are equally good is vital. There is currently an effort to allow historic gambling on horse racing, otherwise known as instant racing, on your ballot this fall. This measure is not the way to deregulate or celebrate Idaho’s history.

There is much confusion and misinformation about what this initiative does and what this sort of gambling looks like in real life. This proposal will bring year-round slot-machine casinos operating 24 hours/day, seven days/week in any location approved by the pro-gambling Idaho Racing Commission. As illustrated by the “historic horse racing” that occurs in other states, the sort of gambling that will be allowed by Initiative 1 is merely slot machine gambling with a small picture of a horse race at the top of the machine. As a former Commission director confessed “[historic horse racing machines] look like slot machines because they are supposed to look like slot machines.”

The legislature banned rapid-bet slot machine action of horse racing in 2015 as a violation of Idaho’s constitution. The constitution allows some betting on horse racing but specifically prohibits any gambling that imitates or simulates slot machines, as the proposed horse slots clearly do. Proponents claim the machines allow betting on past horse races, but in reality, gamblers just hit a button as fast as every five seconds and watch reels spin.

When you hear the words Horse Racing, most people think of an actual race that spectators watch and place bets on. This sort of betting is currently legal in Idaho, it is just no longer popular. However, this is not the sort of “horse racing” that is allowed by this new initiative. In the Attorney General’s analysis of this initiative, he expressed some serious doubts about whether this initiative was constitutional and indicated that it is likely to lead to a lawsuit if passed.

Family Policy Alliance of Idaho® has long opposed gambling, and particularly highly-addictive rapid-bet slot machines because of the destruction it can bring to families economically, emotionally, and spiritually. As Christians we are called to be filled with the Spirit, and resist addiction of any kind, especially of highly addictive activities like gambling.

If you would like more information about this initiative, you can look at the information found on the website of our ally, Stop Predatory Gambling. Please, carefully consider the full implications of this initiative and its effect on you and your family.



Brittany Jones, Esq.
Policy Director