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The Complete Guide to Gambling Laws in Idaho

In Idaho, the online gambling landscape is distinctly unregulated, lacking a structured framework for casino wagering. Surprisingly, the state doesn't explicitly disapprove of international gaming platforms, creating an interesting dynamic in the field of online gambling. Unlike some jurisdictions, Idaho hasn't taken legal action against its residents for engaging with these services, reflecting a unique stance within the sector. As we navigate the intricate domain of Idaho Gambling Laws, we delve into the absence of local regulations, exploring the perimeters of this uncharted territory where international platforms operate without facing direct legal scrutiny. This domain presents both challenges and opportunities for those navigating the online gambling sphere in Idaho.

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Overview of Online Gambling in Idaho

online gambling (1)

The domain of online gambling in Idaho is deeply influenced by a historical trajectory dating back to the 1800s. During this era, gambling thrived and was subject to local regulations by individual towns. However, a transformative moment occurred in 1953 when the legislature implemented a statewide prohibition law, altering the course of gambling activities in the state.

In subsequent years, exceptions emerged, carving out space for specific forms of gambling. Pari-mutuel horse race betting found approval in 1963, followed by state lottery games in 1989, tribal gaming in 1992, charitable bingo and raffles in 1993, off-track betting in 2011, and historical horse racing (HHR) games in 2013. Notably, these activities are subject to stringent regulations, with authorities displaying unwavering commitment to enforcement. Even daily fantasy sports (DFS) companies, which operate in most US states, faced a different fate in Idaho. An agreement with the state attorney general led to their exit from the market, showcasing the firm stance of Idaho's regulatory framework.

The state's definition of gambling is comprehensive, encompassing a broad spectrum of activities involving the risk of money, credit, or other valuables contingent on chance or the outcome of an event. While not explicitly addressing online gambling, this definition extends to internet games. Unlawful gambling participation is classified as a misdemeanor, with potential penalties including imprisonment for up to six months, a fine reaching $1,000, or a combination of both.

Key legal aspects are outlined in Idaho Statutes 18-3801 et seq. and 54-2501 et seq., covering various facets of gambling within the state. The minimum gambling age stands at 18 for pari-mutuel, bingo, and lotteries, while casinos require individuals to be at least 21.

The Legal Gambling Status in Idaho

legal

The legal landscape of gambling in Idaho reflects a conservative approach, with the state only embracing specific forms of wagering. Despite being historically less gambling-friendly, significant legislation in 1992 marked a pivotal moment for the state. However, commercial casinos are notably absent, and the options for gambling in Idaho remain limited.

Here is a breakdown of the legal and illegal gambling activities in Idaho:

Type of Gambling Legality
Land-Based Gambling Yes
Online Gambling No
Lottery Yes
Charitable Gaming Yes
Minimum Gambling Age 18 (21 for casinos)

In 1988, Idaho approved the Idaho Lottery through a constitutional amendment, with participants needing to be at least 18 years old. The lottery conducts nightly drawings and engages in multi-state lottery activities.

Pari-mutuel betting on horse racing was sanctioned in 1963, allowing bettors to participate in pooled wagers with winnings distributed among successful picks. However, greyhound racing remains prohibited in Idaho, and simulcast wagering is not a year-round practice. The existence of tribal casinos is a result of compacts between the state and seven tribes. Notably, Idaho lacks Vegas-style casino gambling, leaving room for offshore online casinos.

Charitable gaming, overseen by the Idaho Lottery, involves reasonable fees for licensing and subsequent renewals, with no direct taxes on revenues. Bingo is also a legally sanctioned form of gambling, often falling under charitable gaming, with venues like St. Paul’s Nampa Bingo and Boise Bingo offering regular games. These regulatory measures provide a glimpse into the carefully managed and limited gambling options available in the Gem State.

License for Online Casinos in Idaho

illegalIn contrast to some states, Idaho does not issue state licenses for online casinos. However, players seeking to engage in online gambling have the option to participate in offshore platforms that are licensed by reputable authorities. While the state itself does not provide a regulatory framework for online casinos, individuals can explore reputable international platforms that operate under the scrutiny of recognized licensing bodies. This approach allows Idaho residents to access a broader spectrum of online casino offerings, even though the state does not have a specific licensing mechanism for these platforms within its borders.

History and Timeline for Idaho Online Gambling

The history and evolution of online gambling in Idaho are marked by significant legislative milestones and shifts in public perception. Here's a chronological overview of key events:

  • 1890: The drafting of Idaho's state constitution sets a stringent tone by outrightly banning all forms of “lottery”-based gambling, reflecting the prevailing sentiments of the time towards games of chance.
  • 1930: The early 20th century witnesses a surge in the popularity of slot machines in Idaho. This trend is fueled by ambiguities in the legal framework surrounding gambling, creating a thriving environment for this emerging form of entertainment.
  • 1947: Recognizing the need for oversight, the state takes a pivotal step by formally regulating slot machines. This move aims to bring a level of control and accountability to the burgeoning slot machine industry.
  • 1949: Reflecting a conservative stance on gambling, Idaho enacts legislation to criminalize casino games, signaling a clear intention to curtail various forms of wagering within its borders.
  • 1953: The Idaho Supreme Court intervenes decisively, declaring slot machines unconstitutional. This legal ruling serves as a landmark moment, resulting in the outright ban of slot machine activities within the state.
  • 1963: Acknowledging the shifting landscape, the state takes a significant turn by permitting pari-mutuel wagering at horse racing tracks. This marks a departure from the previously stringent regulations and introduces a new dimension to the gambling options available to Idaho residents.
  • 1988: Responding to public demand for a state lottery, the Idaho Legislature approves the establishment of the Idaho Lottery. This decision represents a notable evolution in the state's approach to gambling, introducing a government-run lottery as a sanctioned form of entertainment.
  • 1988: On the national front, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) is federally approved. This act opens the door for tribes with federal recognition, including those in Idaho, to negotiate gaming agreements with their respective states.
  • 1992: Three Idaho tribes, namely the Kootenai, Nez Perce, and Coeur d’Alene, seek to expand their gaming offerings by petitioning the state for the right to offer Class III gaming.
  • 1992: In response to the tribes' petition, a constitutional modification is passed explicitly banning Class III gaming. This legislative move narrows the legal gambling landscape in Idaho to the state lottery, pari-mutuel horse racing, and charitable bingo or raffle games held for charitable purposes.
  • 2002: Acknowledging the evolving nature of gaming preferences, the state permits tribes to introduce video gaming machines. Crucially, these games are required to lack traditional slot machine features, reflecting an effort to balance innovation with regulatory control.
  • 2011: The state takes steps to modernize its horseracing laws by allowing simulcasting, enabling Idaho residents to engage with horse racing events beyond the confines of live racing tracks.
  • 2013: The Idaho Legislature approves the introduction of instant horse racing machines, showcasing an ongoing effort to adapt to emerging trends in the gambling industry.
  • 2015: A notable shift occurs as historical horse racing machines are repealed. This decision reflects a nuanced approach to specific forms of gambling, indicating a continuous reevaluation of the state's stance on various gaming activities.
  • 2016: Idaho's attorney general takes a stance against daily fantasy sports, effectively implementing a ban on these activities within the state. This move aligns with a broader trend of states grappling with the legal status of daily fantasy sports.
  • 2017: A proposal seeking to reverse the 2002 referendum allowing tribes to operate video-style slot games is introduced. Despite the effort, the bill is met with resistance and ultimately rejected, solidifying the established gaming landscape.
  • 2019: The opening of the Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel marks a recent addition to Idaho's gambling offerings, contributing to the diversity of options available to residents and visitors.
  • 2021: Idaho's participation in the Powerball lottery game comes to an end following state legislation. This decision underscores the dynamic nature of state policies regarding multi-state lotteries, reflecting a reassessment of the state's involvement in such ventures.

Legalization of Bingo in Idaho

bingo iconIn Idaho, the world of bingo extends beyond traditional live halls to include vibrant online platforms, accommodating players' preferences for both communal and remote gaming experiences. To engage in legal bingo play in the state, residents must be at least 18 years old. The bingo landscape in Idaho is rich with diverse variations, offering players a choice between 30-ball, 75-ball, 80-ball, and 90-ball bingo, each featuring distinct rules and patterns. Both paper and online bingo contribute to engaging gaming experiences, with paper bingo providing a traditional social setting, fostering a sense of community among players. Online bingo bonuses, such as free tickets and match deposit offers, further enrich the digital gaming experience, adding an extra layer of excitement and incentives.

  • 1963: The state allows pari-mutuel wagering at horse racing tracks, marking an initial shift in the gambling landscape.
  • 1988: The Idaho Legislature approves the establishment of the Idaho Lottery, introducing a state-run lottery.
  • 1992: A constitutional modification explicitly bans Class III gaming, limiting legal gambling in Idaho to the lottery, pari-mutuel horse racing, and charitable bingo or raffle games.
  • 2011: Horse racing laws are expanded to allow simulcasting, broadening the horizons for racing enthusiasts.
  • 2013: The Idaho Legislature approves instant horse racing machines, introducing a new dimension to gaming offerings.
  • 2015: Historical horse racing machines are repealed, showcasing a dynamic approach to specific forms of gambling.
  • Present: Idaho's bingo scene flourishes with a combination of live halls and online platforms, reflecting the evolving preferences of players for both communal and remote gaming experiences.

Legal Gambling Forms in Idaho

In Idaho, legal gambling forms encompass a diverse range of options that cater to various preferences. The state allows land-based gambling activities, including pari-mutuel wagering at horse racing tracks, tribal casinos offering Class II gaming, and charitable gaming through bingo and raffles. The Idaho Lottery, established in 1988, provides a sanctioned avenue for lottery enthusiasts, participating in multi-state drawings for substantial payouts. While the minimum gambling age is 18 for pari-mutuel wagering, bingo, and lotteries, it rises to 21 for casino activities. Idaho's gambling landscape reflects a carefully regulated environment, offering residents and visitors a mix of traditional and modern gaming experiences within the legal boundaries set by the state.

Casino App Icon

Idaho Online Casinos

Idaho online casinos provide a virtual platform for residents to engage in a variety of casino games, including slots, table games, and live dealer experiences. While the state does not host its own licensed online casinos, residents may access offshore platforms that cater to the Idaho market, offering a range of gaming options within the digital realm.
sports betting icon

Idaho Sports Betting

As of now, Idaho does not have legal sports betting within its borders. The state lacks legislation permitting sports wagering activities. While online sports betting remains unavailable in the state, residents may consider offshore platforms to explore betting opportunities on various sports events.
poker

Idaho Online Poker

Online poker in Idaho operates within the context of offshore platforms, as the state has not enacted legislation to authorize or regulate online poker domestically. Poker enthusiasts in Idaho can access international online poker sites to participate in various poker variants and tournaments over the internet.
bingo icon

Idaho Bingo

Bingo enthusiasts in Idaho have the option to participate in traditional bingo games hosted by local charitable organizations. These events provide a social and recreational outlet for players. Online bingo platforms may also be accessible to Idaho residents, offering a digital alternative for those seeking a convenient and varied bingo experience.
blackjack

Idaho Blackjack

While Idaho does not have standalone brick-and-mortar casinos offering blackjack, residents may explore online platforms for access to virtual blackjack games. These online alternatives provide an opportunity for players to enjoy the classic card game from the comfort of their homes.
lottery

Idaho Lotteries

The Idaho Lottery represents the state's official lottery system, offering various draw games, scratch-offs, and other engaging lottery options. Proceeds from the Idaho Lottery contribute to state programs, including education and public services. Residents can purchase lottery tickets at authorized retailers throughout the state.

Idaho Parimutuel Betting

Parimutuel betting in Idaho primarily centers around horse racing. The state permits in-person parimutuel wagering on horse races at authorized locations. While online parimutuel betting platforms may be available to residents, the focus remains on traditional trackside betting experiences.

Idaho Prohibited Gambling Activities

Idaho strictly prohibits certain forms of gambling activities, including online sports betting, online casinos, and poker within the state's borders. The legal framework outlines restricted activities, and individuals are advised to adhere to these regulations to avoid legal consequences. Prohibited gambling activities include online sports betting, daily fantasy sports, and online casino gaming.

Check Out These Online Casinos Available in Idaho

While the state itself does not provide licenses for online casinos, residents have the opportunity to engage with reputable offshore platforms that are licensed by recognized authorities. These online casinos feature a wide range of games, including slots, table games, and live dealer options, providing Idaho players with an extensive and entertaining selection.

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Legalization of Blackjack in Idaho

blackjackWhile the state may not host the extravagant Vegas-style casinos often associated with blackjack, enthusiasts of this classic card game find their place in Idaho's tribal casinos. Operating under Class II gaming regulations, these establishments, including well-known venues like the Coeur D’Alene Casino and It’se Ye-Ye Casino, offer an array of blackjack variations within the boundaries of the state's established legal parameters. As players step into these tribal casinos, they can experience the thrill of blackjack in its various forms, from classic renditions to innovative twists on the game. The ambiance of these establishments contributes to a vibrant and dynamic gaming experience, with the added benefit of contributing to the economic autonomy of Idaho's tribes.

With a minimum gambling age set at 21 for casino activities, Idaho ensures a responsible gaming environment for those looking to engage in blackjack and other casino offerings. This commitment to age restrictions aligns with broader efforts to promote responsible gambling practices and foster a secure and enjoyable gaming atmosphere.

Legalization of Lotteries in Idaho

lottery

The legalization of lotteries in Idaho represents a pivotal moment in the state's approach to gambling. Established in 1988 through a constitutional amendment, the Idaho Lottery has become a sanctioned and popular form of gaming. Idaho residents, aged 18 and older, have the opportunity to participate in various lottery games, including nightly drawings that form part of the Multi-State Lottery Association. This inclusion in multi-state lottery activities enhances the potential for substantial payouts. The Idaho Lottery has not only provided entertainment but has also contributed to the state's public projects and educational initiatives through the proceeds generated. The legalization of lotteries in Idaho exemplifies a balanced and regulated approach to gaming, offering residents a chance to engage in a widely accepted form of entertainment while contributing to the greater good of the community.

Idaho Parimutuel Betting

Betting Icon

Idaho's embrace of parimutuel betting stands as a testament to the state's dynamic approach to gambling. Since 1963, horse racing enthusiasts have enjoyed the thrill of parimutuel wagering at authorized racetracks. This form of betting allows participants to pool their wagers, with winnings distributed among those who make successful picks. While greyhound racing is prohibited in Idaho, live horse racing events continue to captivate audiences, fostering a sense of excitement and camaraderie within the community.

The state's decision to permit simulcasting in 2011 further expanded the horizons for racing enthusiasts, allowing them to engage with races beyond the confines of live racing tracks. Simulcasting has provided a convenient avenue for bettors to participate in races taking place in various locations, enhancing the accessibility and diversity of wagering options.

Idaho's foray into historical horse racing machines in 2013 added another layer to the betting landscape. Although these machines were repealed in 2015, their brief presence reflected the state's willingness to explore innovative approaches to gambling.

Idaho Prohibited Gambling Activities

Idaho maintains a clear and concise list of prohibited gambling activities within its legal framework, adhering to a carefully regulated approach. The state's constitution, dating back to 1890, initially set the tone by banning all forms of “lottery”-based gambling. Subsequent legal developments further solidified the restrictions on certain gambling endeavors. In 1949, the criminalization of casino games underscored the state's commitment to curtail specific forms of wagering. The Idaho Supreme Court's 1953 declaration that slot machines were unconstitutional resulted in a ban on this particular gambling activity.

While the state has evolved to permit certain forms of gambling, such as pari-mutuel wagering, tribal gaming, and charitable bingo or raffle games, it has maintained a steadfast stance against others. The prohibition of historical horse racing machines in 2015 and the opposition to daily fantasy sports in 2016 exemplify Idaho's careful consideration of emerging gambling forms.

Idaho's regulatory landscape reflects a balancing act between offering a variety of legal gambling options and maintaining strict prohibitions on activities deemed contrary to the state's values and legal principles. The delineation of prohibited gambling activities serves to establish clear boundaries while allowing for a diverse yet regulated gambling environment within the Gem State.

Gambling in Idaho – Licensing, Tax and Fees

Tax and Fees Icon

In Idaho, tribal gaming is governed by compacts with four tribes: the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation. The tribal gaming commission holds primary responsibility for on-site regulation, control, and security of gaming operations. The Idaho State Lottery has limited authority to monitor and inspect gaming operations to ensure compliance. The Kootenai Tribe, Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and Nez Perce Tribe can enter management contracts for their casinos. The Nez Perce Compact mandates Idaho to pay 10% of the Lottery's annual net sales to the Nez Perce Tribe. Compacts require a 5% contribution of annual net gaming income to the state. Licenses, including Manufacturer/Distributor Licenses, are available. Revenues support local educational programs, with compacts remaining unless renegotiated, replaced, or terminated.

Important Questions for Gambling Laws of Idaho

Is online gambling legal in Idaho?

No, online gambling is not explicitly legal in Idaho. The state does not offer licenses for online casinos. However, residents can participate in online gambling on offshore platforms that are licensed by reputable authorities. It's important for players to choose trustworthy and regulated online casinos to ensure a secure gaming experience. While the state's regulations focus on land-based gambling, Idaho residents have the option to engage with reputable international platforms for online gaming entertainment.

What is the minimum age requirement for engaging in online casinos, sports betting, and poker in Idaho?

In Idaho, the minimum age requirement for various forms of gambling varies. For online casinos, sports betting, and poker, the minimum age is typically 18 years old. However, it's important to note that for casino activities conducted in physical establishments, such as tribal casinos, the minimum age is 21. It's crucial for individuals to adhere to these age restrictions to ensure legal and responsible participation in gambling activities in the state. Always verify the age requirements associated with specific gambling forms to comply with Idaho's regulations.

How does parimutuel betting work in Idaho?

Parimutuel betting in Idaho is a system where bettors pool their wagers, and the odds are determined by the total amount bet on each outcome. Here's how it works:

  1. Wagering Pool: All bets for a specific event are combined into a common pool.
  2. Odds Calculation: The odds for each possible outcome are recalculated continuously based on the total amount of money in the pool and the bets placed on each contender.
  3. Payouts: After the event concludes, the pool is divided among the winning bets. The more money bet on a winning outcome, the lower the payout, and vice versa.
  4. House Commission: A small percentage is typically taken by the house to cover operating costs.

In Idaho, this form of betting is primarily associated with horse racing, providing an engaging and dynamic way for participants to wager on races. The parimutuel system ensures that odds are determined by the betting public, creating a dynamic and ever-changing landscape for bettors.

What types of gambling are legally permissible in Idaho?

In Idaho, several types of gambling are legally permissible, each subject to specific regulations. The authorized forms of gambling include:

  • Pari-Mutuel Wagering: Betting on horse races is allowed through the pari-mutuel system, where bettors pool their wagers, and winnings are distributed based on the total amount bet on each outcome.
  • Tribal Casinos: The state has compacted with tribal entities, allowing them to operate Class II gaming, including video lottery machines and video poker games. These tribal casinos, like the Coeur D’Alene Casino and It’se Ye-Ye Casino, contribute to the diversity of gambling options.
  • Charitable Gaming: Bingo and raffles for charitable purposes are legally permitted, with regulatory oversight by the Idaho Lottery.
  • Lottery: The Idaho Lottery, established in 1988, offers various lottery games, including multi-state drawings.

It's important to note that while specific forms of gambling are permitted, Idaho does not have commercial casinos with Vegas-style gaming. Additionally, online gambling is not explicitly regulated within the state, but residents can engage with offshore platforms that are licensed by reputable authorities. Always adhere to age restrictions and comply with the state's gambling regulations for a legal and enjoyable gaming experience.

Which regulatory bodies oversee gambling activities in Idaho?

In Idaho, gambling activities are overseen by several regulatory bodies to ensure fair play and compliance with state laws. The primary regulatory bodies include:

  • Tribal Gaming Commission: Each of the four compacted tribes in Idaho (Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Nez Perce Tribe, and Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation) has its tribal gaming commission. These commissions are responsible for on-site regulation, control, and security of gaming operations within their respective tribal casinos.
  • Idaho State Lottery: The Idaho State Lottery has limited authority to monitor and inspect gaming operations to ensure compliance with compacts and applicable regulations. It plays a role in overseeing the lottery and its various games.

These regulatory bodies work in tandem to ensure the integrity of gambling activities in the state, covering everything from tribal casino operations to the Idaho Lottery. Their oversight helps maintain a secure and fair gambling environment for residents and visitors engaging in authorized forms of gaming in Idaho.

Gabriela Kirilova

Author

Gabriela Kirilova | Content Specialist/Slot Expert

Gabriela Kirilova is a senior gaming analyst at CasinoLandia. If it looks like a slot, rings like a slot, or spins like a slot, then Gabriela will know about it. She is our Chief Slot Reviewer, and Analyzer.
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