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Old 02-24-2015, 01:09 AM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
28,474 posts, read 20,365,343 times
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Horse racing is a sport in trouble.
It was once followed like baseball, football and basketball are now, but was always a double attraction; as many fans went to the races to gamble as they did for the excitement and pleasure of watching the beautiful horses run. The gambling cut it apart from the other sports. While just as much betting went on with all the others, none of the betting was on-site, except for the bets between individuals. Only racing had institutionalized betting.

When gambling in all its forms was widely prohibited, racing was one of the few where gambling remained legal everywhere. The nature of the sport really favors it, as each event is a lot shorter than watching any game, and a small bet really high tens the excitement.
When folks liked going out, especially as a weekend diversion, horse racing was one of the really rare events that always held the possibility of not only an afternoon's pleasure, out in the fresh air, where neighbors and friends and their families could all have a good time, it also could make an average guy some much-needed extra money if followed with a fan's intensity, and once in a while, could make someone quite wealthy within a few minutes.

Nowadays, when movie theaters are having a hard time consistently drawing crowds, and with so many choices for entertainment at home available, horse racing doesn't hold the entertainment value it once had. Compared to a fast-moving computer game, the pace is leisurely, even though each race is very fast. For non-gamblers, the internet now has thousands of diverting choices to spend idle time year round, in all the comforts of home.

The tracks in warmer climes always did better than in cold climates. Race tracks in idaho have quite a lot shorter season due to temps and weather than tracks in Florida or California. But the tracks themselves have to be kept in tip-top shape to draw a crowd, no matter how long or short the season is, and that requires staff and money.

As any horse fancier knows, feeding and maintaining a pleasure horse is a year-round expense. While a good horse will outlast several ATVs or other all-terrain motor toys, and horses do things like jumping and dressage that nothing with a motor will ever do, the expense of a horse adds up over the years, and they require much more room than a parking spot in a garage.

Race horses cost double or triple the amount required for a pleasure horse. A racing stable is like a large garage full of Ferraris in comparison to a couple of pleasure horses. They cost a lot of money to buy, to train, to maintain, and to transport from race to race. Each race costs a horse's owner a lot of money to enter the horse, mandatory vet exams, wages for the horse's crew, lodging, etc.
And nothing for the owner is ever certain. Because of the gambling factor, an owner can run a horse for a full season and never make a dime, and then, in one off-season race, or the next season, make over a million dollars when a horse suddenly becomes a real contender.

Because it is a sport that is so ancient and so widespread- horses are raced in all parts of the world- it won't ever die, but it could die here. Big purses depend on either big money coming from a small group or little money coming from lots of fans.
In the end, the small big-money groups still depend on the fans. They are the backbone of the industry.

And these days, there's no horse race that can compete with the Lotto. Since the lotteries are one of the few gambling choices that are legal here, Idaho has a lot of high-paying lotteries of its own, financed by the state. For the same $2 dollars a minimum bet is placed at a ticket window, the same $2 dollars can be placed at any convenience store with the same possibility of a huge payday.

Changing the machines made the sport neither fish nor fowl. it imitated the ease and speed of gambling, and imitated the the excitement of a horse race in a bar, where it's comfortable and has lots of other diversions. The guy who owns the sports bar has expensive overhead, just as the tracks and horse owners do, but the money the bar gets depends on the very places where the enterprise is steadily failing.

I don't know what the outcome will be, and I have no answers. I think, however, that for the breeders and owners, those with imagination, good connections and enough money will find ways to keep their profession alive. Idaho horses could be exported all over the world, and anywhere that is lower in elevation, has a more temperate climate, and where the interest remains strong, an Idaho horse has big advantages over the regional horses. Being born and bred here makes for bigger lung capacity, stronger hearts, sounder bones, and hardier dispositions than horses elsewhere.

From personal experience, breeders in other nations expect an imported horse from exotic Idaho will cost them a lot of money. If a horse can prove himself here, the price is there, somewhere else. If the state gets into promotion of our horse industry seriously, a lot of doors can open to a lot more of our breeders. Other horse breeding states are already into promoting their breeders.

As for the sports bars: All I know is where there is a will there is a way, and money sure can create a strong will. Someone will come up with a device that isn't a slot machine in disguise, and a day at the races could become a different kind of evening at the races when some clever solution is reached. Money is a great incentive for clever solutions.
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Old 02-24-2015, 05:12 PM
 
15 posts, read 15,509 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mtn. States Resident View Post
So which side of the aisle will you be sitting, bull dozer? With so many friends involved, and indeed there are owners not being mentioned given other businesses they own and/or direct who aren't mentioned, will you support your friends or sit behind the state?

The fact some of the other businesses are owned by partners or financial backers of at least one of the three, and that other business is so important for high paying jobs and other business in the state. I doubt they would just say, " Oh well." and not do anything else.

Thanks for clarifying.

MSR
Oh, I'm behind the horsemen as I know people are going to gamble in one form or another, and this is a benefit for the state, local businesses, and the racing community. From a purely financial point of view, this is a win-win-win. But- and it's a big but- I'm realistic enough to think it's a very long shot to pass muster with the legislators.

It comes down to those issues I related in my original post. Exclusive rights for the Indian casinos to have the only "electronic gaming machines" in Idaho, the vagueness in the original bill allowing historic horse racing in the first place, and then the real biggie; the wording of the Idaho Constitution when it comes to "imitation" or "simulation" of a slot machine. Basically, that puts it all in the eye of the beholder, and with many legislators feeling they were duped in 2013 because what they saw is not what they got, well, that's a big hill to get over. Bottom line, they don't like what they are seeing.

Perhaps there is some compromise available here, but those I know directly involved with historic racing tell me these machines must look this way, or no one will play them. Again, repeating myself, this has been proven out by facilities that have had the machines in operation for some time now. And so if the original machines shown to the legislators in 2013 could actually be installed (and that may not be possible), the revenue stream would be of little or no benefit. No win-win-win.
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Old 03-06-2015, 10:18 PM
 
8,440 posts, read 12,831,668 times
Reputation: 6283
Quote:
Originally Posted by bull dozer View Post
Oh, I'm behind the horsemen as I know people are going to gamble in one form or another, and this is a benefit for the state, local businesses, and the racing community. From a purely financial point of view, this is a win-win-win. But- and it's a big but- I'm realistic enough to think it's a very long shot to pass muster with the legislators.

It comes down to those issues I related in my original post. Exclusive rights for the Indian casinos to have the only "electronic gaming machines" in Idaho, the vagueness in the original bill allowing historic horse racing in the first place, and then the real biggie; the wording of the Idaho Constitution when it comes to "imitation" or "simulation" of a slot machine. Basically, that puts it all in the eye of the beholder, and with many legislators feeling they were duped in 2013 because what they saw is not what they got, well, that's a big hill to get over. Bottom line, they don't like what they are seeing.

Perhaps there is some compromise available here, but those I know directly involved with historic racing tell me these machines must look this way, or no one will play them. Again, repeating myself, this has been proven out by facilities that have had the machines in operation for some time now. And so if the original machines shown to the legislators in 2013 could actually be installed (and that may not be possible), the revenue stream would be of little or no benefit. No win-win-win.
Check the activities of the Double Down in Idaho Falls. I agree, bull dozer, the Legislature needs to review the machines at all three locations. I don't know, but possibly Boise has different machines than Idaho Falls or C'dA.

I think looking for compromise is cheaper than defending a lawsuit. Inside the link is a petition to Gov. Otter and two others, asking him not to repeal. Anyone who signs can write comments, if they wish.

Double Down Idaho Falls Sports Bar |Restaurant in Idaho Falls

MSR
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Old 03-12-2015, 12:36 PM
 
15 posts, read 15,509 times
Reputation: 21
Just finished watching the testimony in front of the house committee. Horse racing will lose, unfortunately. I found myself wondering why no one who testified promoted the thought that all competing forms of gambling in Idaho (Indian casinos, lottery, and racing) need to find a way to co-exist rather than be at odds. Repealing the historical racing operations does nothing more than open the door for repeal of the other gambling platforms. I don't think that will happen as both the casinos and lottery have been around long enough to be somewhat "baked in the cake", but the racing industry should have at least attempted to go down that road. I'm sure all who testified on behalf of horse racing did so with good intentions, but the deliveries were terrible, at best. Too technical on how the historical racing terminals actually work, and either too angry or too much drama on the rest.

Oh well, everybody loses, but most in Idaho will never even notice. Life goes on. Committee will vote next Tuesday or Wednesday, so this should all be completed by the end of next week. Thinking Otter won't even consider a veto as it will come through to him veto proof. I suppose the horse people can now pursue court action, but not sure they will. Grapevine is telling me everyone will just close their operations. Really a shame.
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Old 03-13-2015, 01:11 AM
 
8,440 posts, read 12,831,668 times
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Default Racing Committee Didn't Know

Quote:
Originally Posted by bull dozer View Post
Just finished watching the testimony in front of the house committee. Horse racing will lose, unfortunately. I found myself wondering why no one who testified promoted the thought that all competing forms of gambling in Idaho (Indian casinos, lottery, and racing) need to find a way to co-exist rather than be at odds. Repealing the historical racing operations does nothing more than open the door for repeal of the other gambling platforms. I don't think that will happen as both the casinos and lottery have been around long enough to be somewhat "baked in the cake", but the racing industry should have at least attempted to go down that road. I'm sure all who testified on behalf of horse racing did so with good intentions, but the deliveries were terrible, at best. Too technical on how the historical racing terminals actually work, and either too angry or too much drama on the rest.

Oh well, everybody loses, but most in Idaho will never even notice. Life goes on. Committee will vote next Tuesday or Wednesday, so this should all be completed by the end of next week. Thinking Otter won't even consider a veto as it will come through to him veto proof. I suppose the horse people can now pursue court action, but not sure they will. Grapevine is telling me everyone will just close their operations. Really a shame.
It sounds like you watched on 3/11, bull dozer. Some really fascinating info has been published in the Boise Weekly, Spokesman-Review and Post Register. All are naming who started this repeal movement.

Of interest to me was the theme best portrayed in the Post Register, which unfortunately I can't post. The Executive Director of the Racing Commission resigned in Jan. If you watched on Wed., 3/11, then you saw Racing Commission Member and Salmon attorney Snook testify he was never informed by the Legislature that they had concerns.

Impressive were the Reps. who connected the dots! Some started to think, after this key testimony, that perhaps not all information/concerns were shared with the Racing Commission members, let alone the business owners. The articles are worth the read in the Spokesman-Review and Boise-Weekly. Hopefully, someone will pick up the Post Register article so it can be an AP posted article. Meanwhile, this isn't bad. I believe the comments readers wrote are insightful.

Racing commissioner tells lawmakers he never knew they had any concerns over instant racing machines | The Spokesman-Review

I basically agree with your comments above. I don't comment about Gov. Otter for so many reasons But I do agree the vote will be taken next week and the law repealed. Then Idaho will be sued and Commissioners' testimony, legislatures' comments and more will now be accessible to those who file suit. Idaho will loose money defending this repeal and the revenue streams cut off.

As one person said, Jackpot is not that far away for those who want to gamble.

The petitions have 2,000 + signatures. For various reasons, some, including me, signed these petitions. I honestly don't think pro-business policy makers ever thought there would be that much support.

MSR

Last edited by Mtn. States Resident; 03-13-2015 at 01:21 AM..
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Old 03-13-2015, 09:58 AM
 
15 posts, read 15,509 times
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Hmm, if the racing commissioners didn't know there were concerns, they must live under rocks. When they opened the historical racing at Les Bois last year the standard comment heard was, "this ain't gonna fly". And I readily admit I thought the same thing. The terminal they had displayed for several months (and I assume that being the one the legislators had seen before approving in 2013) looked nothing like those actually installed. Since I spend quite a bit of time around Les Bois betting the simulcasted races, I knew without a doubt a big shoe was going to drop once the legislature met. Heck, everyone knew that. That is, seems everyone but the racing commissioners knew.

Personally, the historic racing has no appeal to me, but I do clearly understand how it works, and believe it meets the letter of the law, and fits within the Idaho Constitution. The problem is the appearance. If the next move for the racing industry is to challenge what seems to be the upcoming repeal, that appearance is going to be hard to overcome. You know, if it looks like a duck........................

What bothers me the most in all this is the numerous declarations from the racing industry that they can't survive without income from some source outside of the actual live racing. I've been a fan of horse racing since seeing them once a year at the local county fair where I grew up, have seen the sport decline to where it's only a shadow of what it once was, and seen a complete failure of the racing industry to look at itself for answers. Instead they look to revenue from casinos, government subsidies, or now historic racing terminals. Where is the innovative leadership that has been applied in other forms of sport and entertainment? There is an evolutionary process in any successful business that's not applied in horse racing. Heck, Apple used to sell nothing more than bad computers! Now, from the same base technology they make billions.

One after another, folks stood before the committee this week saying, "we just need a little help", and "horse racing can't survive without historic racing". To me, that's giving up. The base that makes horse racing so great has not changed. It is the excitement of seeing these great animals compete coupled with the possibility of making a profit from the entertainment. Any other sport only gives you the thrill of seeing. In horse racing you are actually involved in the entertainment. This is not being promoted, not being properly marketed. Yes, there is huge competition for the entertainment and wagering dollar, but the answer is evolving to meet that competition, not simply giving up.

I truly hope horse racing survives (and thrives) in Idaho, but I'd really like to see something more than thinking the only answer is a dependency on resources from the outside. Adapt and grow, don't just become dependents.
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Old 03-15-2015, 03:15 PM
 
8,440 posts, read 12,831,668 times
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Default I Agree

Quote:
Originally Posted by bull dozer View Post
Hmm, if the racing commissioners didn't know there were concerns, they must live under rocks. When they opened the historical racing at Les Bois last year the standard comment heard was, "this ain't gonna fly". And I readily admit I thought the same thing. The terminal they had displayed for several months (and I assume that being the one the legislators had seen before approving in 2013) looked nothing like those actually installed. Since I spend quite a bit of time around Les Bois betting the simulcasted races, I knew without a doubt a big shoe was going to drop once the legislature met. Heck, everyone knew that. That is, seems everyone but the racing commissioners knew.

Personally, the historic racing has no appeal to me, but I do clearly understand how it works, and believe it meets the letter of the law, and fits within the Idaho Constitution. The problem is the appearance. If the next move for the racing industry is to challenge what seems to be the upcoming repeal, that appearance is going to be hard to overcome. You know, if it looks like a duck........................

What bothers me the most in all this is the numerous declarations from the racing industry that they can't survive without income from some source outside of the actual live racing. I've been a fan of horse racing since seeing them once a year at the local county fair where I grew up, have seen the sport decline to where it's only a shadow of what it once was, and seen a complete failure of the racing industry to look at itself for answers. Instead they look to revenue from casinos, government subsidies, or now historic racing terminals. Where is the innovative leadership that has been applied in other forms of sport and entertainment? There is an evolutionary process in any successful business that's not applied in horse racing. Heck, Apple used to sell nothing more than bad computers! Now, from the same base technology they make billions.

One after another, folks stood before the committee this week saying, "we just need a little help", and "horse racing can't survive without historic racing". To me, that's giving up. The base that makes horse racing so great has not changed. It is the excitement of seeing these great animals compete coupled with the possibility of making a profit from the entertainment. Any other sport only gives you the thrill of seeing. In horse racing you are actually involved in the entertainment. This is not being promoted, not being properly marketed. Yes, there is huge competition for the entertainment and wagering dollar, but the answer is evolving to meet that competition, not simply giving up.

I truly hope horse racing survives (and thrives) in Idaho, but I'd really like to see something more than thinking the only answer is a dependency on resources from the outside. Adapt and grow, don't just become dependents.

I personally agree with yyou bull dozer about adapting and growing. I'm not sure how horse racing competes (no pun intended) for the entertainment/leisure dollars compared to the instant Internet world we now have available for instant entertainment. Reviewing what other states are doing, who successfully have horse races would be a start.

I do believe in personal responsibility as far as one was given correct information. My specific concern in this unique issue is what did the former Executive Director tell or withhold from various Legislature Members and private citizens, who built businesses when the law changed two years ago? He had a job that directly conflicted with his state duties. Who or what vets candidates for Executive Director?

What questions were asked in the hearing you watched? Did you see Mr. Snook questioned? Perhaps the Racing Commission hasn't had the level of attention required from current members, IDK. Now would be a good time to appoint new members, if needed.

I do know if I had done my research and had been assured a business I was going to spend millions to build and staff, I'd sue too. That isn't to say the businesses, like Double Down, aren't already making business plans focusing on other entertainment for patrons, while they pursue the court's opinion. Sometimes people or poorly defined laws have to be removed/changed for a business to adjust, regroup and emerge stronger than they previously were.

MSR
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Old 03-15-2015, 08:37 PM
 
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I did not see Mr. Snook's testimony. I did see Ms. Noyes speak on behalf of the racing commission. She was the last person to appear on the final morning of the house committee hearing. Honestly, what she had to say was very confusing. Who knew what and when regarding the commissioners was incredibly vague, to say the least. That being said, after conducting a bit of research, I don't think the fault in all of this falls on the racing commission. And I will explain.

HB220 that was passed in 2013 allowing historical racing is more vague than the testimony of Ms. Noyes. You will not find the words "machine" or "terminal" anywhere within. There is a reference to the historic races being transmitted by "electronic means", but it's anyone's guess as to just what that is supposed to mean. Now, you compare that to the ballot initiative approved by the Idaho voters in 2002 regarding the Indian casinos are their "video gaming machines", well, there in no comparison. That initiative went out of its way to state the Indian machines did not "simulate" or "imitate" a slot machine thereby making them acceptable under the Idaho Constitution. Had that same wording been in HB220, this would now be a non issue. Whether that was a complete oversight be the sponsors and writers of HB220, or whether they carefully avoided even a remote connection to something that might appear to be a "slot machine" is, again, anyone's guess. That I had a small amount of inside information on what was going on in 2013, I can tell you the plan was to "slide" HB220 through with as little inspection as possible. The thinking was once the revenue stream started flowing, everyone would simply go along with the program. I think the Indians may have been under estimated.

The way horse racing competes is by educating. If you've ever been to Les Bois Park on a Wednesday night, you would have seen somewhere in the range of 5-7,000 folks in attendance. They eat and drink, they visit, the boys check out the girls, and the girls check out the boys, and very few of those several thousand place a bet. Why? Because they don't know how and no one shows them how. Same thing with the simulcasting from other tracks. People know how to push a button on a slot machine/historic racing terminal, but they know nothing of betting on horses, and no one teaches them.

To compete, you have to give people a reason to choose you over some other form of gambling/entertainment. You have to promote and you have to educate. None of that is happening. It can, but it seems the easier route was to get folks sitting in front of terminals/machines. Well, they are most likely going away, so maybe the racing industry needs to go back to what it really has to offer instead of looking for some external bailout. Maybe they already had all that they really needed.
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Old 04-02-2015, 08:49 PM
 
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Default Gov. Otter Has NOT Signed Bill Yet

I found it interesting that Gov. Otter hasn't signed this bill yet. He has two more days.

This article points out that Gov. Otter received $41,000 of campaign donations from people in the horse businesses. Additionally, he considers himself a horseman. Most impressive to me are the meetings he has had with the groups, after the bill passed both the Senate and House and the amount of emails and phone calls his office has received from residents on both sides.

Calls, emails flood Capitol as Otter considers Idaho instant-racing ban | Idaho Legislature | Idahostatesman.com

Is the Legislature finished yet or do they have an end date? What will happen if the Gov. ignores the passed bill in the time-frame he has to sign it? This has been an interesting one to watch and how much more the Legislature has learned post vote.


MSR
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:13 PM
 
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Otter has until Saturday afternoon to veto the bill. If he does not, it becomes law with or without his signature.

Yes, he has received monies from people in the horse business, but two of the owners of the company that runs Les Bois Park also sponsored Russ Fulcher against Otter in the primary.

Grapevine is saying he will not veto unless certain there are enough votes to sustain veto. Think that means a couple of senators and about five in the house would have to change from their original votes. Very close call.

If he does veto and it holds up, I'm hearing those that brought the bill in the first place will go to the courts. No veto and this is over.
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