PRESS ENDORSEMENT: Down the homestretch, ‘No’ on Prop 1

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This horse-racing gimmick isn’t Idaho’s first rodeo.

Back in 2013, legislators were tricked into believing “historic horse racing” machines were a mechanism of fair play that would strengthen the state’s horse racing industry and bolster public education coffers at the same time. Not only was the state sold a nag, but Idaho’s auditor found that money was actually taken away from schools and ended up being misspent. It took a couple of years, but the state wised up and shut the thinly veiled slot machines down.

Why would we sign up for another race around the same track? The Press strongly encourages residents to vote “No” on Proposition 1.

You might be reeling from the slick and expensive ad campaigns from both sides of the Prop 1 fence. Put them aside for a moment and consider just a few points.

For one, the pitch that Prop 1 passage is necessary for Idaho to return to its “horse-racing roots” is unmitigated manure. Simple economics — the lack of a vibrant market for horse racing — is keeping those beasts in the corral, not governmental interference or favoritism.

For another, the self-sustaining nature of Idaho tribes, including the Coeur d’Alenes and Kootenais in the north, would be seriously threatened with passage of Prop 1. Revenue from highly regulated gaming on tribal lands has contributed not just millions of dollars to public education, but has provided thousands of good jobs to tribal members and non-members alike. Cutting deeply into one of the most vital sources of that income could easily subject our tribal neighbors to levels of poverty that no self-respecting Idahoan should accept.

Locally, there’s also this to consider: Passage of Proposition 1 could very likely open the door to the Post Falls Greyhound Park becoming a full-fledged casino. While that might be OK for some, it is not what many of our communities’ civic and religious leaders would consider a step forward.

Here’s the bottom line: Gambling in Idaho today is right where most citizens want it. For those who wish to risk their hard-earned cash, they can play the lottery at countless locations or visit a few highly regulated, well-maintained tribal casinos. There’s no reason to dramatically alter that balance by allowing slot machines anywhere horses race just eight days a year, particularly at the risk of destroying Idaho tribal sovereignty and dignity.

This question is easy because it’s been answered before. On Nov. 6, vote “No” on Prop 1.

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