In Idaho, a battle is reportedly brewing between the western state’s legislature and governor Clement “Butch” Otter over a suggestion that the Republican’s may be about to institute temporary rules legalizing instant historical horseracing wagering machines.
According to a report from the Associated Press news service, instant historical horseracing wagering terminals allow punters to place bets on videotaped contests only after all identifiable information about the horses and previous results have been removed. Otter reportedly supports legalizing the machines as a way of saving the state’s faltering horseracing industry as it is struggling to remain competitive against other forms of gambling including that offered online.
After giving its approval to the electronic betting machines in 2013, the Republican-controlled legislature reportedly banned the terminals two years later over fears that they had been “duped” into legalizing slots. Otter subsequently vetoed the reversal and urged legislators to come up with a compromise that would allow horsemen to continue their livelihood with historical instant horseracing wagering machines.
But, the Associated Press reported that the Idaho Supreme Court later ruled that the governor had waited too long before filing his veto, which meant that the terminals remained illegal, and now there is speculation that the 74-year-old will authorize the temporary use of the controversial machines via the institution of administrative rules, which do not require legislative approval.
State agencies such as the Idaho Racing Commission may create temporary administrative rules in order to enforce state laws so long as these are supported by the governor. The body reportedly met last week to discuss such a proposal regarding instant historical horseracing wagering machines but did not make a final decision while Otter explained that he had yet to see the specifics of any such scheme but remains supportive of discussions to revive the horseracing industry.
“There’s got to be an element of fairness,” Otter told the Associated Press. “We are trying to make a case to save horseracing.”
However, some legislators are now worried that the Idaho Racing Commission and Otter may be trying to find a way to legalize the terminals without their approval, which they feel would violate the state’s separation of powers statutes.
“This is no longer about instant racing,” Idaho State Senator Brent Hill told the Associated Press. “This is about protecting the constitution. The governor has a cause he feels strongly about but I just caution, though, about not getting ahead of the process.”
To further make his point, Hill reportedly sent an e-mail to the governor’s office on Tuesday asking if it really wanted the Idaho Racing Commission to have a “showdown” over the instant historical horseracing wagering machines. The two-line communication included a link to a news report on the Texas legislature de-funding its own state racing agency for bringing back the machines without official approval.
“Here’s how Texas is handling the commission’s defiance of the legislature,” reportedly read the e-mail from Hill.