By MAUREEN DOLAN
Idaho voters will decide in November whether to legalize the use of betting machines for wagering on past horse races, a practice known as historic horse racing.
Secretary of State Lawerence Denney announced Tuesday that a statewide citizens initiative met the requirements to be placed on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
To qualify, the initiative needed at least 56,192 valid petition signatures, equal to 6 percent of registered voters at the time of the last general election.
The initiative, opposed by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, seeks to overturn an earlier decision by the Idaho Legislature that repealed the use of historical horse racing gaming machines. Previously, the machines were operating at race tracks throughout the state, including Greyhound Park in Post Falls.
It will be listed on the ballot as Proposition 1.
Ernie Stensgar, chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, said Tuesday that the Tribe continues to oppose historical horse racing.
“We urge every Idahoan to do the same. Passage of Prop 1 would result in casinos springing up all over the state, in direct conflict with the Idaho Constitution,” Stensgar said. “The Tribe does not oppose horse racing, but this is not about ‘historic horse racing’ or horse racing at all — it is about giving casinos to a small group of people while at the same time opening up every Idaho county to casino-style gaming, with no restriction or limit. That’s not just unconstitutional, that’s wrong for Idaho.”
The campaign to place the initiative on the ballot was led by Save Idaho Horse Racing, a group chaired by Bruce Newcomb, a former speaker of the Idaho House.
“We have believed all along that Idahoans have special feelings for horse racing and all the benefits it brings to our state,” Newcomb said, in a press release. “That belief has now been confirmed. There is much work yet to be done. But this is truly exciting for horse racing fans as well as the jockeys, trainers and many others who may once again have the opportunity to come back and work in a thriving and vibrant Idaho horse racing industry.”