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Massive debt in Idaho horse racing industry puts its future in jeopardy

Business & Money

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POCATELLO (KPVI) – The Idaho State Horse Racing Commission is dealing with a massive deficit and if it’s not taken care of, horse racing statewide could be in jeopardy.

The Idaho State Racing Commission currently has a deficit of $141,000, and without fixing that deficit the small tracks of Idaho will no longer be available for races, ending a long-lasting tradition in the state.

“It’s going to have a millions of dollars ripple effect that’s going to happen on hundreds of families in the state of Idaho,” says President of the East Idaho Horsemen’s Association Bryon Goody.

Goody says the commission is trying to fund a deficit due to the closure of Les Bois Park in Boise. This has affected the commission in how they will operate in the future.

But, there’s a possible solution.

“Thankfully as an offset to that, the online wagering has increased over 65% from 2019 to 2020,” says Mark Hanson, a member of the East Idaho Horsemen’s Association.

Hanson says a piece of legislation called Senate Bill 1178 can solve the problems the commission has right now.

“This legislation … redistributes some of the online wagering to fill that shortfall funding of the Idaho State Racing Commission,” said Hanson.

Right now, the commission receives 5% from online wagering. The bill would increase the amount received to 15%.

Hanson says this doesn’t only support the horses, but the people around them as well.

“What’s really tricky to do is put the number on how many jobs that horse has provided and the days, weeks, months leading up to its event,” said Hanson.

The Commission has about two to three weeks to get this bill passed, which seems to be the only solution to keeping the tradition alive.

The Senate State Affairs Committee approved the bill Friday. It will head to the Senate floor for a vote next week.

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