A yes vote on Prop 1 saves an in­dus­try and jobs, and ben­e­fits Idaho

The Idaho Statesman (Sunday) - - OPINION -

PROP 1 IS ALSO ABOUT FAIR­NESS; WE SEEK TO ELIM­I­NATE AN IN­DE­FEN­SI­BLE DOU­BLE STAN­DARD WHEN IT COMES TO DEFIN­ING THE LE­GAL­ITY OF GAM­ING TER­MI­NALS.

As the own­ers of Trea­sure Val­ley Rac­ing, we know that a thriv­ing horse rac­ing in­dus­try brings many ben­e­fits to Idaho. These in­clude hun­dreds of jobs, vi­brant ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, money for pub­lic schools and more than $50 mil­lion in an­nual eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. In the process, we be­lieve Idaho can be­come a lead­ing horse rac­ing state in the West, at­tract­ing horse farms from other states and pro­vid­ing eco­nomic growth and in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties through­out the state.

Propo­si­tion 1 is also about al­low­ing the peo­ple to right a po­lit­i­cal wrong. In 2013, the Leg­is­la­ture au­tho­rized his­tor­i­cal horse rac­ing, giv­ing the horse rac­ing in­dus­try a shot in the arm by cre­at­ing larger purses, at­tract­ing more horses and cre­at­ing more race days. His­tor­i­cal rac­ing was a known and proven so­lu­tion in states such as Ken­tucky, Wy­oming, Arkansas and Ore­gon. Un­for­tu­nately, the Leg­is­la­ture re­versed course in 2015, pulling the rug out from an in­dus­try on the re­bound. Les Bois Park has been closed ever since and many Ida­hoans lost their jobs.

Prop 1 is also about fair­ness; we seek to elim­i­nate an in­de­fen­si­ble dou­ble stan­dard when it comes to defin­ing the le­gal­ity of gam­ing ter­mi­nals. To­day, Idaho Lot­tery and tribal video gam­ing ma­chines have been deemed con­sti­tu­tional, de­spite their sim­i­lar­ity to slot ma­chines. Propo­si­tion 1 con­tains the lan­guage that vot­ers ap­proved in 2002, when tribal gam­ing ma­chines were au­tho­rized. That lan­guage reaf­firms that the mere ap­pear­ance of a gam­ing ma­chine does not con­sti­tute “an elec­tronic or electro­mechan­i­cal im­i­ta­tion or sim­u­la­tion of any form of casino gam­bling.” By the same to­ken, the Prop 1 bal­lot lan­guage af­firms that rac­ing ter­mi­nals are not slots — they are fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent be­cause of the parimutuel or pooled na­ture of bet­ting (as op­posed to bet­ting against the house) and the fact that win­ners aren’t deter­mined by ran­dom num­ber gen­er­a­tion.

The Coeur d’alene Casino and other out-of­s­tate casi­nos are fund­ing a $6-mil­lion cam­paign full of lies and hypocrisy to fight Prop 1. In a des­per­ate at­tempt to pro­tect their monopoly, the casi­nos have the au­dac­ity to try to scare Ida­hoans about horse rac­ing and ter­mi­nals, while spend­ing mil­lions gen­er­ated by their own gam­ing ma­chines. Prop 1 lim­its the use of ter­mi­nals by al­low­ing them only at race track fa­cil­i­ties that run at least 8 race days/year — fa­cil­i­ties that are re­quired to ob­tain a state li­cense and ap­pro­pri­ate lo­cal city and county ap­provals — and one ex­ist­ing simul­cast lo­ca­tion.

The big casi­nos al­lege that we, the spon­sors of Prop 1, are “guar­an­teed a profit” at 18 times that which is con­trib­uted to schools. This is laugh­ably false, ig­nor­ing the re­al­ity that most of the rev­enue goes to pay­ing salaries, taxes, purses, track main­te­nance and up­grades, and other op­er­at­ing costs. Prop 1 as­sures, through a trans­par­ent and ac­count­able process, that the pub­lic will see where the money goes, in­clud­ing mil­lions of dol­lars for our pub­lic schools — money that schools oth­er­wise wouldn’t have. In bring­ing com­plete trans­parency to our mo­ti­va­tions, we an­nounced that we will con­tribute 100 per­cent of all prof­its to the Trea­sure Val­ley Rac­ing Foun­da­tion for Ru­ral Idaho. This foun­da­tion’s char­ter is to pro­vide fi­nan­cial sup­port for col­lege schol­ar­ships, youth pro­grams (4H and FFA) and ru­ral health care needs.

All five of us, the sole fun­ders of Prop 1, are na­tive Ida­hoans who share a pas­sion for horse rac­ing and a love for the peo­ple in­volved in the sport. We would love noth­ing more than to pass on this great sport to Idaho’s fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, while also pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port for ed­u­ca­tion and youth pro­grams. Please join us in vot­ing “yes” on Propo­si­tion 1, and help us save an iconic Idaho in­dus­try for gen­er­a­tions to come.

Harry Bet­tis, Larry Wil­liams, Linda Yanke, Robert Reb­holtz, Jr. and John Shel­don are the own­ers of Trea­sure Val­ley Rac­ing, op­er­a­tors of Les Bois Park.

KATHER­INE JONES kjones@ida­hostates­man.com

From left are Robert Reb­holtz Jr., Harry Bet­tis, Linda Yanke, Larry Wil­liams and John Shel­don, the peo­ple be­hind Trea­sure Val­ley Rac­ing, which op­er­ates Les Bois Park in Gar­den City.

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