Idaho is Now One of Nine States without BOTH Legal Sports Betting and Recreational Marijuana

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: May 18, 2023 08:00 PM
Idaho is Now One of Nine States without BOTH Legal Sports Betting and Recreational Marijuana

Evidence continues to mount that legal sports betting in Idaho has virtually no shot at legalization in the near future. And the latest batch of proof is perhaps the most disheartening of all.

Sports gambling laws usually align with other state policies. If you have legal sports betting, for instance, you most likely have a state lottery and allow expansion in the casino industry. Many also use laws on recreational marijuana as an indicator of where states stand on sports betting. If you allow it, are discussing it or at least plan to consider it, you're considered a strong candidate to already have or soon approve legal sports wagering.

Some might laugh at the logic behind this approach. But it's pretty airtight. Many knew it was only a matter of time before New York legalized sports betting after they put plans into motion that permitted recreation marijuana use. Sure enough, less than two years later, The Empire State is on the verge of becoming the most lucrative legal sports betting market in the United States. A similar mode of operations has unfolded in more than a few other places, as well.

This is terrible news for anyone holding out hope that Idaho sports betting will evolve into more than a pipe dream anytime soon. With a handful of states green lighting either recreational marijuana or sports wagering (or both) in 2023, The Gem State is now part of a super-stubborn minority: states that don't have legal sports betting or recreational marijuana use.

How Many Other States Share Idaho Sports Betting and Recreational Marijuana Ban

The list of states without legal sports betting and recreational marijuana is both short and telltale. Let's start with the list. Including Idaho, nine states appear on it. You can see them below, in alphabetical order:

  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Minnesota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah

As the PowerTrip Morning Show from KFAN FM 100.3 in Minnesota noted early this month, this list can be interpreted as irreversibly discouraging or potentially hopeful. On the one hand, some of these states are bound to expand their gaming laws. The latest push for sports betting in Texas is about to fail, but they're considered locks to join the fold down the line. Georgia, Minnesota, South Carolina and Oklahoma have all held semi-serious to ultra-aggressive sports betting legalization talks over the years—including this one. Appearing within this small group certainly doesn't preclude Idaho from embracing more lax gaming laws in the future.

On the other hand, some states from this list have so far shown zero appetite for legal sports betting. That mainly refers to Hawaii and Utah, but Alabama sports betting, while a topic of discussion, has never gained serious traction. Hawaii and Utah, specifically, have been identified as long shots to ever legalize sports betting or recreational marijuana. Neither state has made even one of these issues a priority.

The Status of Sports Betting in Idaho

Does Idaho's inclusion in the aforementioned minority suggest they'll never legalize sports betting? Or could they follow in the footsteps of Texas and Minnesota, two states that are behind the curve but considered locks to eventually rewrite their gambling laws?

Unfortunately for sports bettors in Idaho, the answer skews closer towards the former.

The Gem State has at least talked about sports betting in the past. That puts the future of Idaho sports betting light years ahead of Hawaii and Utah by default. But these conversations have been mostly exploratory. They have never actually amounted to anything.

What's more, many industry experts believe that Idaho is one of the two states least likely to legalize sports bettingAs we wrote about last month, sports betting experts Eric Raskin and Jeff Edelstein said on an Action Network podcast that Idaho sports betting is flirting with "never happening" territory.

This reads like hyperbole at first glance. In reality, it's closer to the truth. Sports betting discussions were not on the 2023 legislature agenda, despite initial reports to the contrary. That alone suggests the state has given little thought to expanding their gaming laws for at least the next few years. 

All Hope is Not Lost for Sports Gambling in Idaho

Some of you know our motto around these parts: Never say never.

Sports betting legality can change on a whim, for both better and worse. We've seen it happen numerous times in the past 12 months alone. California sports betting was deemed a formality only for two gambling initiatives to implode during the 2022 general election. Minnesota, meanwhile, appeared like they would pass on the chance to legalize sports betting in 2023. Fairly suddenly, though, they amended their latest proposal. Now, Minnesota may actually ratify a sports betting proposal by the end of the month.

Granted, we're talking about states that generally acknowledge the sports betting subject in some form. Idaho didn't do that this year. That's why it's still important for Idahoans to explore alternatives. Plenty of sites from our reviews of the best online sportsbooks will allow anyone in the United States to set up an account. Most of the states surrounding Idaho have also already legalized sports betting. Residents of The Gem State always have the option of visiting one of them to place their wagers.

Beyond that, all we can do is wait for Idaho to change their tune on sports betting. Or rather, more appropriately, we must wait for Idaho to start carrying any sort of sports betting tune at all. Right now, we have no idea when or if that'll happen. But like we said, these things can change fast. Though Idaho hasn't given the impression they're on the verge of a breakthrough, you never know what 2024 holds.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works best for all of your sports betting needs:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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