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Idaho lawmakers reject anti-tribal gambling bill
Idaho Lawmakers have thumbed down proposal to amend the current state law classifying gambling machines at tribal casinos in the state as illegal slot machines.
But the decision to kill the bill authored by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, came down to a narrow 8-7 vote by members of the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday.

The Idaho Statesman reported that the state had averted a legal headache by rejecting the Loertscher’s measure. On the other hand, Tribes hailed the decision of the House State Affairs Committee to junk the bill, which they said would violate contracts between the tribes, state and federal government.

“It’s discouraging to see a bill like this come up, but we are pleased that the committee members recognized the confusion that would be created by this bill and saw fit to keep it from moving any further,” Coeur d’Alene Tribal Chairman Chief Allan said in statement.

Loertscher, in bringing up the bill to the table, denied that his measure was an attempt to “get even” with tribes that spearheaded a successful 2015 effort to have the legislative ban similar machines at state racetracks.

The tribes claim that lobbyist are still trying to find ways to bring those machines back to the racetracks.
“[It] is not about banning tribal gaming. There’s nothing contained therein that does anything of the kind,” Loertscher said. If tribes’ gaming machines already comply with the Idaho Constitution, he said, “this bill will have no effect.”

Despite Loertscher’s explanation, many of his colleagues remained skeptical of his intentions.

“I just don’t believe that the purpose is to only reconcile Idaho Code with the Constitution,” said Rep. Dustin Manwaring, R-Pocatello.

While he objects to gambling, Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian doubted the bill would in any way help the state remove gaming machines.

“If I thought this piece of legislation would in any way help us to remove those machines, I would be in support of it,” he said. “However, I do not think that that is what this piece of legislation will accomplish. I believe it will put us into a lawsuit that we will not win.”

Calvin Ayre

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