Horse Racing Park Spent $1.3 Million on Ballot Initiative

Posted by The Associated Press on 05/11/2018

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A company that operated a now-closed horse racing track in Boise spent more than $1.3 million in an effort to get so-called “historical horse racing” on the November ballot.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports Treasure Valley Racing LLC was the only donor listed on the Committee to Save Idaho Horse Racing, Create Jobs, and Fund Public Schools’ campaign finance reports filed with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office this week.

Treasure Valley Racing operated the Les Bois Park horse racing track and casino in Garden City, which closed in 2016.

The committee’s initiative seeks to legalize “historical horse racing,” in which bettors use slot machine-like terminals to place bets on randomly selected past horse races. The machines are also called “instant racing terminals,” and hundreds of them were installed at three locations across Idaho after the state Legislature authorized them in 2013.

Two years later, however, lawmakers decided the machines looked too much like slot machines, and they repealed the law. Treasure Valley Racing and other historical horse racing advocates say the profitable instant racing terminals are needed to keep live horse racing sustainable.

Most of the $1.34 million donated by Treasure Valley Racing went to paid signature-gatherers from Fieldworks LLC of Washington, D.C. The committee needs to have 56,192 valid signatures from registered voters for the initiative to get on the November ballot; county clerks have until June 30 to determine if that bar has been met.

Todd Dvorak, director of media relations for lobbying firm Strategies 360 and a spokesman for the committee, said it gathered nearly 115,000 signatures in 10 weeks.

The committee “understood from the outset that a significant investment would be required to reach as many people as possible in such a short amount of time,” Dvorak said.

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