When non-Indian racetracks installed gaming machines in Idaho, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe called foul. A bill was passed by lawmakers to make the gaming machines illegal, after they felt like they were tricked by the race tracks. The devices were installed and looked more like slot machines instead of machines that would allow wagers to be placed on horse races.
However, Governor Butch Otter vetoed the bill, Senate Bill 1011 was suddenly off the table. The tribe is now arguing that the governor waited too long and that the bill needs to be enforced.
In a recent court hearing, the issue at hand was whether or not the veto of the bill was delivered to the senate after the required five-day deadline of the state constitution. Arguments were rapid on both sides, with some believing the veto was unjust while others saying the veto was valid. Justice Roger Burdick stated that if something was done in an unconstitutional manner, then the court would step in.
Speaking to The Spokesman Review, an attorney for the tribe, Deborah Ferguson stated: “Nothing is more fundamental to the rule of law than to know with certainty what the law is and how the law is made. This powerful process essential to our democracy is prescribed by the Idaho Constitution. It can’t be altered with a wink and a nod between branches of government, and it’s not subject to a flexible interpretation by those who hold the reins.”
Two race tracks and a simulcast facility in the state have installed close to 250 machines and if passed, the Senate Bill 1011 would have required that the machines be removed from the tracks by the 1st of July. This date has long since passed and the tribe is now continuing the fight to see the machines removed from the track premises.
The justices are expected to issue a written decision in the coming weeks.