Monday, August 4, 2014

Double Down Bar and Grill offers simulcast horse racing

Danielle Wilde, Steve Laflin and Rachelle Hunter at the Double Down Betting Bar and Grill, 3078 Outlet Boulevard.
Horse racing enthusiasts in the Idaho Falls area don't have to go to Sandy Downs anymore for simulcast betting. Double Down, which opened in July at 3078 Outlet Boulevard, is offering live simulcast betting in a facility that serves food and alcohol.

The business, formerly the One 16 Sports Bar and Grill, is being run by Steve and Dottie Laflin and their daughters, Rachelle Hunter and Danielle Wilde. The betting side is being run by Jim and Melissa Bernard, owners of Intermountain Racing and Entertainment.

Laflin, CEO of International Isotopes, said they had no interest in running a regular restaurant, but that the simulcast element made the proposal attractive to them.

Betting on horses in Idaho has been legal since 1963, and the Legislature authorized simulcasting in 1990. Before July 2011, however, simulcasting was only allowed at live horse racing facilities -- Sandy Downs in Bonneville County's case. That year, the Legislature passed a bill allowing simulcast horse betting from other venues, supporters arguing that off-track locations could provide a better atmosphere, food and other incentives to attract paying customers. The 2011 bill did not allow new simulcast betting venues to be set up, but instead allowed operations like the Bernards' to move.

Pari-mutuel betting is a system under which all bets are pooled together. Once the outcome of an event is determined, winning betters are paid out of the pool. The idea is that a wagerer has a better chance of getting a better return.

This past session, the Legislature approved HB220, allowing pari-mutuel betting on historical horse races. Laflin said they anticipate having 50 historical race machines installed by November. So if you want to bet on a race at Aqueduct that happened in 1996, this will allow you to.

In Idaho, proceeds from simulcast pari-mutuel betting go to youth programs run by the Idaho Horse Board and the Robert R. Lee Promise Scholarship program, which annually awards 25 scholarships to students attending state colleges and universities. The remaining funds are distributed by the Idaho State Racing Commission to improve horse racing in the state.

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