Industry Reports

Could Proposition 1 Bring Slot Machines to Idaho Despite Campaigners’ Opposition?

Idaho’s Proposition 1 seeking an expansion of the state’s horse racing and gambling sector has been a much-discussed topic lately.

Both the Proposition 1 supporters and opponents have been spending millions of dollars to make voters believe their point of view. The irony is that both movements – the Les Bois horse-racing business which supports the proposal and the Idaho tribal gaming industry which is against the expansion – are funded by the local gambling industry.

What is even more interesting, is the fact that the citizens of Idaho who are not willing to see an expansion of the state’s gambling sector are divided in two. For the time being, there are two groups which are both against Proposition 1 but the two of them work independently – the “Stop Predatory Gaming in Idaho” group and the “Idaho United Against Prop 1” group.

“Stop Predatory Gambling”, based in Boise, is aimed to show how gambling companies generate large profits by people who are more susceptible to lucrative gambling services. On the other hand, “Idaho United”, based in the northern part of the state, includes some political leaders who have also opposed the proposed measure aiming to expand the local gambling industry.

Local Voters Have Been Protected from Addictive Gambling

Despite the fact that the proponents of Proposition 1 have pointed out the benefits of the change, saying that gambling expansion would bring more money to the state’s coffers and have warned Idaho legislators that local citizens may choose to travel to other states to gamble more.

The opponents of the proposed changes have reminded that historically, the state of Idaho has protected its residents from addictive gambling options such as slot machines. Horse-racing, pari-mutuel betting and other limited gambling options such as a state lottery and charitable games have been permitted, though.

Currently, the two groups which are trying to persuade local voters to say “no” to Proposition 1, are having campaigns against addictive slot machines which could enter the state in case that the proposed changes are given the green light.

The 2013 gambling industry proposal was supposed to promote historical horse racing but after it was approved, it turned out that the terminals installed actually were pretty similar to slot machines. The latter are currently banned under the provisions of the state Constitution, so the Idaho legislature annulled the changes two years later, in 2015. The only exception made for slot machines in Idaho is for the Native American tribes that run gambling operations within their lands.

If approved, Proposition 1 would revoke the annulment, which on the other hand, is very likely to create a legal challenge that is to be taken to the state Supreme Court. In fact, the Governor of the state, Butch Otter, vetoed the repeal in April 2015 but he was not quick enough to survive a court battle.