Here's Why Idaho Legal Sports Betting Isn't More of a Priority in 2022

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Nov 30, 2022 07:00 PM
Here's Why Idaho Legal Sports Betting Isn't More of a Priority in 2022

Since the USA rewrote the laws on sports betting back in 2018 to allow states the power to individually legalize gambling, a majority of the country has opted to approve wagering in some form. At this writing, in fact, sports betting in the USA is legal for more than 30 states and Washington, D.C. And yet, despite this sweeping trend, Idaho legal sports betting hasn't even registered as a blip on the state's radar.

This bleak phrasing does not overstate the lack of interest surrounding legal sports betting in Idaho. Most other states that have yet to take the plunge have at the very least proposed, if not extensively discussed, sports betting legislature. Idaho has not even done that in a serious capacity. As of late 2022, they continue to maintain that there's no serious push to legalize sports betting.

To most, this hard-line logic comes across as bonkers. Surely Idaho is leaving lucrative amounts of revenue on the table! But officials in power tend to disagree.

As Jordan Kaye noted for the Idaho Press, the state seems to think there isn't much money to be made from legal sports betting. But is that a rational stance? And will Idaho ever come around? What exactly will it take to change the prevailing sentiment?

Let's investigate the genesis and ramifications of the currently nonexistent supports for Idaho legal sports betting.

Idaho Legal Sports Betting Has a Limited Market

When measuring the potential profit derived from legal sports betting, many analysts are inclined to focus on the biggest success stories. Take the state of New Jersey, for example. Since becoming the first state outside of Nevada to roll out legal sports betting, they have collected more than $250 million in revenue from the taxes assessed to casinos and online bookies. That is a massive amount of money. It is also a sum Idaho cannot reasonably hope to replicate.

See, the states that stand to make the most money from legal sports betting are the ones with expansive markets. Places like New York and New Jersey have a bunch of professional sports teams that will drive people to place wagers and increase the state's revenue stream.

Idaho does not have that luxury. They have zero professional sports teams and only a singular flagship college to pique gambling interest. Betting on Boise State football and basketball would be their biggest draw, and that's worth only so much.

Those who support Idaho sports betting don't particularly care. They argue that sports betting in Idaho is happening anyway.  Not only can people travel to one of the many neighboring states to legally gamble on sports, but there are plenty of reputable sites from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks who allow Idaho residents to set up accounts and immediately begin processing transactions.

Even so, the overwhelming majority of Idaho officials remain unconvinced. Many have pointed to Wyoming as an example. Since they legalized some forms of sports betting, they have collected between $250,000 and $300,000 in total tax revenue from millions of dollars submitted sports bets. As many will be quick to point out, that's a lot of money for doing nothing. But government officials are quicker to note it's not actually that much money given how much sweat and financial equity must go into establishing a sports betting infrastructure if and when it's legalized.

Idaho Could be an Underrated Sports Betting Market

Believe it or not, we disagree with the claims that Idaho sports betting doesn't have the potential to rake in the dough. 

Indeed, their sports market is on the smaller end. But comparing it to Wyoming is unfair. Wyoming actually has an even more finite sports betting market. Their most popular team is the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL, who play their games outside of the state, in Missouri. Meanwhile, their biggest college program doesn't come close to sniffing the clout of Boise State.

Important still, Wyoming is the lowest populated state in the country and home to only three casinos. Idaho ranks close to the bottom 10 in population, but they still house more than three times as many residents as Wyoming—and roughly 10 times as many casinos, for a total of 30. That increased reach alone should ensure Idaho clears the million-dollar revenue market per year. Their ceiling might even be much higher.

Yes, sports betting is somewhat dependent on the size of the state's market. But it is no longer solely dependent on how many sports teams are located within state lines. The rise of the internet and a 24/7 news cycle has increased access to every sport and league, regardless of where you live. On top of that, the vast majority of sports bets are now placed online, according to multiple studies. Idaho stands to increase their revenue stream by a great deal with the legalization of online sports betting. Bigger companies will still line up to operate within their jurisdiction, even if they're not as excited about the prospects of Idaho as they are a place like California.

The Future of Idaho Legal Sports Betting

To be blunt, there isn't much of a future for Idaho legal sports betting right now. Any attempt to approve it is at least a year away, and even thinking about it will require a wholesale shift in the state's mindset.

At this time, it isn't quite clear what could drive Idaho to change their policy. Perhaps a regime change during the November 2022 elections could spur conceptual overhauls. Or maybe Idaho will be driven to join the growing number of lower-populated states with legal sports betting as they see their annual revenue increase.

Regardless, for the time being, Idaho sports betting is but a fantasy—one that is, at minimum, a couple of years away from becoming a reality.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works 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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