Last updated: June 1, 2020
Status: No sports betting bills have been filed for consideration by the Idaho legislature in 2020. At this stage, sports betting looks unlikely to be coming to the state in the near future.
ETA: With no sports betting bills tabled, it’s hard to imagine sports betting being legalized in the state any time soon. However, if bills in neighboring states prove successful, that might change.
Despite a May 2018 US Supreme Court decision to allow individual states to offer legal sports betting, Idaho’s strict stance on sports wagering is unlikely to alter anytime soon. And any move to bring sports betting to the Gem State would require a constitutional change.
As a result, it is no surprise that no bills were brought forward for consideration by the Idaho legislature in 2018 or 2019. While other states have moved quickly to take advantage of the revenue opportunities that sports wagering can bring, Idaho hasn’t even flinched.
The state is firmly against sports betting either locally or online and laws prohibiting such activities are enshrined in their constitution. To change that would require a two-thirds supermajority in the legislature - something that seems unlikely given the state's attitude to gambling.
When Idaho's State Constitution was drafted in 1889, it made it clear that gambling was frowned upon and all forms of wagering, including lotteries, were outlawed in most areas. However, some cities took advantage of local autonomy to make their own gambling rules. As a result, there were still casino games being played in Boise until 1949, when a state-wide ban was applied.
In 1947, slot machines started to appear in the state, but were soon declared unconstitutional. By 1953, all slot machines had been removed from the state or destroyed. Right up until the 1980s, old Idaho slot machines, full of coins, were still being found in the state's rivers by divers.
A decade after the slot machine ban, pari-mutuel betting on horse racing was legalized in the state and, for many years, was the only form of gambling available to residents. That all changed in 1988 when the state lottery finally arrived. Lawmakers had resisted attempts to launch a lottery for many years. However, thanks to public support, it was eventually passed into law via a general election.
Federal Indian gaming law paved the way for Idaho tribes to open their own bingo and lottery operations. In 2002, they began installing video gaming machines that dispensed cash-out tickets in their casinos. The success of the lottery and tribal gaming establishments had an adverse effect on horse racing betting, which dipped in popularity.
Other forms of gaming to appear in Idaho include state-run lottery machines, which imitate instant pull-tab lotto games on a touchscreen. These have proved to be extremely popular across the state and have generated a large amount of revenue since being introduced.
Sports betting remains outlawed in Idaho and looks set to remain so for the foreseeable future.
There is no organization currently in control of sports wagering in the state.
Players of all ages are permitted from wagering on sports in Idaho.
Currently, there is nowhere to legally bet on sports in Idaho.
No sports betting licenses have been issued in Idaho and there are no plans in place to issue any in the immediate future.
There are no operators offering legal sports betting in Idaho.
All forms of sports wagering, including mobile sports betting, are illegal in Idaho.
There are no current estimates as to how much sports betting could be worth in Idaho.
No tax rate or license fees have been proposed for sports betting in the state.
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