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Gambling could turn Boise County economy from bust to robust

Gambling could turn Boise County economy from bust to robust

Mitch Coffman
August 29, 2014
August 29, 2014

Boise County residents are debating whether to allow gambling into the rural, economically depressed county. Gambling, such as slot machines and card tables, is illegal in Idaho unless on an Indian reservation.

But some residents in Boise County feel they need a boost for their businesses, specifically in Idaho City. The town once thrived, with industries flourishing including mining, logging and, yes, gambling.

Regardless of how some people feel “morally” about gambling, I see this is an economic issue. And what exactly is moral about denying Boise County the opportunity to do something for itself? To squash the county’s desire to permit gambling if it so wishes is sort of like protecting us from ourselves. A state lottery is OK, but not some form of gambling for Boise County? Go figure.

The point is that if it is OK for the state to be in the gambling business, that same right should extend to others as well. Idaho City is a unique setting in Idaho, but is nonetheless having trouble attracting visitors. Mining and logging have been restricted by environmentalists and a myriad of regulations to the point where they are distant memories.

If residents believe limited gambling should be legal in a desire to aid the local economy, I hope they take it to the Legislature come January and put pressure on our elected officials not to be hypocritical. How can those officials be OK with a state lottery, but not some form of gambling in a county that can use some help?

The basic idea of liberty is freedom, including economic freedom. If a business wishes to provide customers with options to gamble it should be permitted to do so. Likewise, those participating should be allowed to spend their money as they please. They earned it, our elected officials did not.

Should Boise County convince our state to allow gambling, Idaho City has gained a visitor for sure. Maybe a business or two will even have a blackjack table, in which case you will find me there saying, “Hit me.”

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