Idaho Gambling Laws

Despite Idaho’s longstanding history as a state friendly to card-sharps-and-players, that reputation is steadily-easing and abolition of strict gambling laws in Idaho has seen the state gradually step into the gambling 21st century.

Residents-and-visitors in Idaho can purchase lottery tickets at their convenience store, place wagers on horse races, or head to a tribal casino. Tribal casinos have bingo and slot-machine-styled video-gaming-terminals, giving Idahoans a full complement of gambling options to choose from.

See the table below for the state-of-play on sports betting in Idaho, online gambling, online casino laws etc.

Gambling Type Legal Land-Based Legal Online
Sports Betting No No
Casinos Yes No
Fantasy Sports (DFS) N/A No
eSports No No
Poker No No
Horse-Racing Yes Yes
Lottery Yes No
Charitable-Gambling Yes No

Idaho Gambling Tax Rate

Idaho has a 7.8 % state tax on gambling-winnings.

Large wins may incur Federal taxes.

Idaho Gambling Age

Gambling Type Age
DFS 18
Casinos 18
Horse-Racing 18
Lottery 18
Charitable-Gambling 18

Idaho Sports Betting Laws

Currently in Idaho, the state’s gaming laws not only prohibit companies from offering betting on sports, but they also prohibit players from participating in the practice.

It appears unlikely that the state will adopt changes to its Idaho sports betting laws any time soon. There has not been a single serious attempt to legalize sports betting in Idaho for quite a number of years now, and given that even fantasy sports are against the law in Idaho, this shows how that Idaho is a long way from adopting and legalizing actual widespread sports betting.

Sports Betting in Idaho

Regardless of the May 2018 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court (when betting on sports became legal in the U.S. at the Federal level and was handed back to each state for self-determination), Idaho still has no legal land-based sportbooks at this early stage of the legalization process.

For the time being, aficionados of sports betting in Idaho can take place in betting on horse racing, or interestingly, betting on pool, snooker or billiards is also legal in Idaho.

Sports Betting Online

Online Sports Betting is currently prohibited in Idaho, and state lawmakers have shown little to no inclination towards legalization. As in many of the more conservative states, the laws of Idaho could potentially be used to prosecute people for betting on sports online. It has not happened yet in Idaho; however, it is an example of the power of the state’s anti-gambling proponents. Idahoan State officials haven’t officially come out against sports betting online, however, significantly, they haven’t committed to it either.

Meanwhile for fans of online sports betting in Idaho, whilst Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are deemed illegal in Idaho, online horse & greyhound racing betting are completely legal in the state for its residents and visitors.

Casinos in Idaho

The sections on gambling in the Idaho Constitution forbids most forms of Casino games and casino gambling. However, there loopholes at the State’s seven Tribal Casinos regarding the offering of lottery type electronic machines, pull-tabs and some limited poker games which are facilitated by a live dealer although the betting options are actually controlled by the machines.

Idaho’s Land-based Casinos

Whilst there are no Commercial Casinos in the state of Idaho, there are seven tribal casinos in the state for the state’s residents and visitors to choose from. Over 4120 ‘slot machines’ (see the Official Idaho State 2002 proposition that succeeded in redefining slot machines at tribal casinos as “not slot machines.”) and other gaming machine devices are on offer, and minimum bets are as low as $0.01 to a rather conservative and low $50 maximum bet in Idaho’s Tribal Casinos.

Online Casino Laws in Idaho

Like many other states, Idaho suffers from a distinct problem when it comes to its online gambling laws. To be blunt, there aren’t any online casino laws on the state’s books at all.

Most of the foundation laws underpinning Idaho’s gambling industry were written long before the concept of an online casino or online video poker rooms were ever envisioned possible.

Meantime, we advise all potential online players to acknowledge the implicit interpretation of the Idaho gambling laws that online casinos are illegal (until legally deemed otherwise by the state’s legislators).

With the exceptions of 100% legal horse & greyhound racing, please accept that online gambling options are off the gambling menu in the state of Idaho.

Horse Racing Betting in Idaho

Horse Racing Betting (Horse racing in Idaho is legally administered in the state by the Idaho Racing Commission) for residents of the state of Idaho and its visitors.

In Idaho, betting on horse racing can occur at live races, at off-track betting facilities and online.

Track Side: Idaho is home to two year-round racetracks and a number of fairgrounds that host a few races every year. All offer legal betting options each year.

Off-Track Betting (OTB): Despite being a little in decline, there still are 3 OTB operating locations in Idaho. Betting on races in Idaho, across the mainland United States and most major racing locations worldwide like Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are all available.

Online Betting on Horse Racing in Idaho

Two of the leading horse and dog racing betting websites that operate in the United States are both open to accept gamblers resident of, or visitors to the state of Idaho. Subsequently, all customers from the state of Idaho can place real money bets online on all horse racing and in particular, the big ‘out-of-state’ races like the Triple Crown and Kentucky Derby, all perfectly 100% legal.

Idaho’s Daily Fantasy Sports Laws

At the Federal level of lawmaking, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) have been made fully exempt from any Federal gambling bans. According to the nation’s Federal lawmakers, DFS has been determined to be contest test player’s skills, rather than a game of chance. In short, DFS is not considered gambling.

However, the Idaho Attorney-General and therefore Idaho law has gone against the Federal grain. In a May 2 2016 news release, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said in ruling against the legalization of DFS sites in Idaho;

“My concern is that the daily fantasy sports offerings my office reviewed require participants to risk money for a cash prize contingent upon individual athletes’ collective performances in various future sporting events. As I see it, this falls within Idaho’s definition of gambling.”

The major DFS competition sites have exited the state and do not offer any cash based contests to Idaho residents or visitors until legislation or a favorable court decision legalizing DFS occurs.

How do DFS Competitions work?

Fantasy Sports betting is rather different to ‘straight’ sports betting where you traditionally bet on your favorite teams to win, or others to lose. In a DFS fantasy league, you begin with a virtual salary cap which is used to draft players for your virtual team. Every player in the DFS league is priced determined on his/her perceived virtual market value (based on seasonal and career performances, current form etc.) If you wish to draft the best quarterback in the NFL, for example, you’ll need to outlay high percentage of your salary cap on a single star player. The best DFS teams usually feature performing team players rather than outright superstars. Look for bargains and players who perform consistently. The big budget superstars may tip you over the edge of your salary cap.

Once you have drafted and ‘paid’ for your virtual team, sit back, relax and watch and see how the games pan out and how your players perform. Your virtual team’s real-world counterparts amass stats (TDs, strikeouts, goals, points, completions, hits, rebounds etc.) in the real world and as a result, your fantasy league team accumulates points online. The person whose team accumulates the most points, wins the league be it a daily, weekly, regular season, stand-alone playoff ‘league’ or competition.

The major U.S. sporting leagues (NFL is the most popular, however, NBA, NHL and MLB all offer DFS competitions) all have DFS leagues running throughout the regular season and play-offs. Huge daily prizes of more than $1 million per league can potentially paid out to winners of each DFS competition, be it daily, weekly or even monthly.

Poker Laws in Idaho

Idaho is one of the only states to expressly prohibit poker and poker is illegal at the states’ Tribal Casinos. Obviously, neither does Idaho have any legal Poker Rooms.

As recently as 2014, one of Idaho’s Tribal Casinos opened a live poker room. Idaho officials immediately challenged the tribe’s position that poker was legal through the state’s pari-mutuel gambling laws. The state contended that poker was expressly illegal under the state constitution.

The state of Idaho prevailed in the landmark case when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with it in July 2015 and the casino was forced to shut down its poker room immediately.

Online Poker Laws

Online poker in Idaho and video poker online are both implicitly deemed illegal in the state.

While not a direct reference to Online Poker, the Idaho constitution does forbid a class of game that would seem to include online casinos and online poker.  Even if regulated, operators are not allowed to;

“employ any electronic or electromechanical imitation or simulation of any form of casino gambling” (Section 20 Idaho Constitution).

Consequently, there is no regulation or moves towards legalizing online poker in Idaho at the moment. For further details, please refer to the above section on ‘Online Casino Laws in Idaho’.

eSports Betting in Idaho

When sports betting finally becomes legal in Idaho, eSports betting will assist players to win in new and revolutionary ways and as a result, add to diverse betting opportunities and assist in developing economic prosperity in the Gem State.

‘eSports’ Explained

Basically, eSports has transformed video-game-play at the very highest level into a professional sport. In rare scenarios, it’s played on an individual level, however, it’s predominantly played through teams and across different leagues and tournaments.

The electronic games themselves are like different sports types, in some ways. For example, in eSports, CS:GO, Starcraft and Call of Duty are equivalent to football, hockey and baseball.

Worldwide betting on eSports is growing quickly and it continues to gain in popularity year-on-year, with an increasing number of sportsbooks around the world now offering a range of betting markets across all major eSports tournaments.

With that kind of unprecedented exponential growth, look for betting on eSports to assist in oiling the legislative pathways to sports betting legalization in Idaho and driving growth in the state’s tax revenues for its citizens.

Benefits of Legal Gambling to Idaho

  • Legal Gambling is a source of additional state income and providing the state of Idaho an additional and much-needed revenue stream to pay for services-and-infrastructure for the state’s residents.
  • The Idaho tribal casino industry creates jobs and increases economic prosperity to Native American people living on Tribal lands.
  • Legal Gambling provides protected and safe environments monitored by government controllers for Idaho residents.
  • Legal gambling in Idaho keeps money in the state and not in the casinos of nearby states or in off-shore casinos.
  • Future Idahoan online gambling will assist in keeping children safe, with stricter sign-up and account creation processes and more consumer protections than exist with off-shore casinos.

History of Gambling in Idaho

1949:  Casino Table Games Banned in Boise. This instigated the creation of ‘Garden City’ a 17-foot-wide strip of land outside of Boise that legalized gaming in reaction to Boise’s crackdown. The move backfired badly and put in motion the anti-gambling legislation that still exists today.

1953:  Slots Banned in Idaho.

1963:  Legal Horse Racing introduced to Idaho

1989:  Idaho lottery begins, and becomes the most popular gambling format in the State along with nationwide interstate lotteries.

1993:  Charitable Gaming begins in Idaho.

2011:  Simulcast horse racing betting law enacted, and in 2013 was extended to include ‘historic horse races’.

2016: DFS deemed illegal by Idaho’s State Attorney-General.

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