In March the Idaho House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill sponsored by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe that would outlaw so-called Historic, or Instant Racing Machines by repealing the two year old law that authorized them. Governor Butch Otter vetoed the bill, but the timing of his actions has led to speculation and legal opinions that he may have acted too late.
After vetoing the bill it seems the governor did not return it to the Idaho Senate within the 5 day time frame stipulated by the state’s constitution. State law allows a bill to become law within five days, excluding Sundays, if not returned to the legislature regardless of whether it has the governor’s signature or a veto.
The tribe has delivered a 6-page legal demand to Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney insisting that he certify the bill as Idaho law. Tribal Chairman Chief Allan said in a news release on the subject, “The law doesn’t give Secretary Denney a choice in the matter. It is not a matter of personal discretion. As a constitutional officer of the state of Idaho, it’s his official duty to follow Idaho law and certify S 1011.”
Were the bill to be entered into law, three venues in the state would have to stop offering the slots-like devices by July 1st. The machines are currently located at Idaho’s only commercial horse racing track in Boise, Les Bois Park, as well as Greyhound Park Event Center in Post Falls. The third location is a bar and grill in the eastern part of the state.
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has a casino near the Post Falls location. The casino’s machines are regulated by the Idaho Lottery Commission according to a letter from the Director. During the three summer months of 2014, Les Bois Park had a handle of over $15 million, nearly a third of all over-the-counter lottery sales in the state for the same period. No current numbers were available for tribal casinos in the state at press time.
Within hours of receiving the Governor’s veto the Senate voted to override it. However in spite of having initially passed the bill by a 25-9 majority (49-21 in the House) Senators were only able to muster 19 votes; falling short of the 2/3 majority needed. The bill was filed with Idaho Secretary of State with a status of “Veto Sustained” by the Senate on April 6th.
Les Bois Park has stated that they will close if not allowed to use Historic Racing revenue to sustain their track.