BOISE -- Proposed horse racing machines at tracks like Les Bois are stirring some controversy.
Legislation allowing the electronic historical racing devices was approved by the Idaho Legislature in 2013. But now some lawmakers say the machines are too similar to casino-style gambling.
Some say there is one key difference between the bill passed in 2013 and the rules created to enact the law. The debate all centers around the word “instant.”
Those against the gambling devices say “instant” crosses the line between betting on a horse race and slot machine-style gambling.
The machines could soon be coming to Boise's horse racing track.
It's called historical racing and involves betting against a pool.
In the top right corner of the machine the horse race unfolds. But some say the animation and 7-second cycle looks like it belongs in a casino.
“They operate like a slot machine, they have spinning wheels and all the accoutrements of a slot machine,” said Garden City Mayor John Evans.
Evans says the term “instant racing” used in the rules created by the Racing Commission after the bill passed makes it possible for the machines to be allowed and says that wasn't the intent.
“From our perspective they were manipulated into passing something, then something added afterwards that changed the character of it,” said Evans.
But Treasure Valley Racing tells us the terms historical racing and instant racing are the same. They say the machines are allowed because you can wager against one another in what's called pari-mutuel betting.
“I think what they are doing is using the machines as a scapegoat, because the machines can only do one thing - the historical horse racing, and they have very specific rules they have to follow,” said Rep. Christy Perry.
Perry sponsored the legislation and says the machines are needed to revive a dying horse racing industry.
Supporters say the devices could bring in up to $30 million a year in economic benefits and hundreds of jobs.
"This has been used in other states to kind of bring that back, it helps to build the purses for the jockeys and others in the horse racing industry," said Perry.
There is a display machine inside Les Bois that was shown to lawmakers.
Rep. Jason Monks saw the device. He said he would not have voted for the legislation if he had known that's what would be allowed.
This session, the House voted to reject the operating rules created by the Racing Commission.
They will formally announce their opinion to the Senate in a State Affairs Committee meeting on Monday.