Ada County, Garden City at odds over Les Bois gaming machines

Credit: Zach Stotland/ KTVB

Ada County, Garden City at odds over Les Bois gaming machines

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by Stephanie Zepelin

Bio | Email | Follow: @ktvbstephanie

KTVB.COM

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 11:09 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 31 at 8:25 AM

ADA COUNTY -- A new way to gamble is coming to Les Bois Park.

Last session, the Idaho State Legislature passed a law that allows horse racing tracks with live racing to also feature historic gaming machines. The machines have an inventory of 20,000 to 30,000 races that have already ran around the country, and the player bets on these just like a live race.

"I think if you look around the country and you look at live racing in itself, it's a struggling industry and I don't think anyone would disagree with that," said Ada County Commissioner Rick Yzaguirre.

Yzaguirre said this will be good for the racing at Les Bois park, and for the community.

"I think it'll support horse racing. A lot people that go to the live racing during the summer season will actually go to the gaming side during the live season, and maybe even the off season too," said Yzaguirre. "It's going to create a couple hundred jobs and the multiplier effect on the economy. I think it'll benefit Garden City."

Les Bois Park is on Ada County property, but it is surrounded by Garden City. Those with Garden City are not supportive of the idea of historic gaming machines.

"I haven't met a single person who's been in favor of this, and very, very few people are even aware of what's happening," said Jeff Souza, Garden City Council President.

Souza said the city was shocked when the county told them the scope of the gaming. He said they were told it would be 200 machines, open 16 hours a day for seven days a week.

"This is not an asset to our community, this is not an amenity, this is not entertainment, this is a last-ditch effort by the county, in my view, kind of a Hail Mary to really perpetuate the horse racing operation," Souza said.

He thinks there will also be an impact on police, which he said will fall on Garden City and their taxpayers.

"We're hoping that the commissioners understand just how serious our concerns are," Souza said. "This has impacts within Garden City and really the greater community that I really think that need to be talked through."

The contract between Treasure Valley Racing, who would own the machines, and Ada County is still in the works. Commissioner Yzaguirre said they should have the contract finalized in the next few weeks.

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