Portland Meadows seeks approval for instant racing machines

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The struggling Portland Meadows racetrack is seeking legislative approval to add instant racing machines, a move it says is necessary to keep horse racing viable in Oregon.

Track representatives told a House committee Wednesday that the electronic machines will attract younger people to the sport, and the extra money will help increase the size of purses for winning horse owners.

The machines resemble slots and the bets are made on actual horse races from the past. Like live horse racing, it is a parimutuel form of gambling in which bettors wager against other players, rather than the house.

Members of the House Committee on Business and Labor asked few questions Wednesday and no votes were taken. Track representatives said there were no plans to put the machines anywhere other than Portland Meadows, and the track is OK with the bill being rewritten to prohibit instant racing at off-track sites. Track officials have yet to say how many machines they want.