Idaho Sports Betting Outlook Remains Unknowable as Gambling Expansion Slows Across United States

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: May 27, 2024 08:00 PM
Idaho Sports Betting Outlook Remains Unknowable as Gambling Expansion Slows Across United States

If you thought 2024 would bring any type of progress for the outlook on Idaho sports betting, well, you might want to think again. 

The future of sports gambling in the Gem State remains as unpredictable as ever. And really, this might be putting it kindly. 

“Unpredictable” suggests that the state of sports betting in Idaho could go in any number of directions. In reality, it’s just a different way of saying “nothing is going to happen anytime soon, if it happens at all.” 

Sure, many believe sports gambling will eventually come to the Gem State. That’s mostly because those same people tend to believe sports betting will be legalized in every state. And that’s not an unreasonable stance to take. 

Thirty-eight of the 50 states have already legalized some form of sports wagering. Meanwhile, more than half of those also allow top online sportsbooks in the United States to operate inside their market as well. Ever since the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018, the legalization of sports gambling has spread like wildfire. Why should we believe that Idaho, or any other state, will be a permanent holdout? 

Roughly one year ago, it’d be easy to dismiss this concern, and to maintain the Gem State would eventually join the growing throng of states with legal sports betting. However, over the past 12 months or so, the rate of sports betting legalization in the U.S. has slowed by a significant rate. Granted, this is not entirely unexpected. The USA has only 50 states. There is not an endless supply of places to legalize sports wagering. And yet, the lack of newcomers over the past year is perhaps telltale even by those standards.

The Rate of Sports Betting Legalization in the United States has Mostly Halted

To be sure, the U.S. has hosted some sports betting launches since 2023. Most recently, online sports betting in Kentucky and sports betting in North Carolina both went live. 

With that said, there has been little movement on sports betting legislation in 2024. In fact, as of the end of May, no state has exited its yearly (or bi-annual) legislative meetings with an approved sports betting bill. Heck, some of the remaining states didn’t even talk about it. This includes Idaho sports betting dialogue. Lawmakers seemingly remain as uninterested in reworking the state’s gaming laws as ever.

Of course, the absence of Idaho sports betting negotiations isn’t necessarily worse compared to states that have actually considered initiatives. Indeed, it should be encouraging that sports betting in Georgia and sports betting in Alabama cracked the legislative agendas. Then again, efforts in both states failed. What’s more, very little progress was made from previous flops. 

When it comes to Idaho sports betting, at least we know where policymakers stand. And while that doesn’t say much for the future of sports gambling legalization in the Gem State, it does make it easier to monitor the future for actual progress.

How Far Down the List of States is the Potential for Idaho Sports Betting Legalization?

Complicating the future of Idaho sports betting even further is the number of states in front of them. All of the following states either discussed sports gambling legalization this year or figure to pass a bill before the Gem State:

  • Alabama: They discussed it during 2024 legislative meetings. There is optimism the status quo could shift by 2026.
  • California: After tabling sports betting for 2024, stakeholders hope that at least on-site wagering will be legalized by 2026.
  • Georgia: Another failed sports betting effort in 2024 dampens the Peach State’s immediate outlook, but most still believe legal gambling is only a matter of time.
  • Hawaii: Once deemed an ultra-long shot to legalize sports betting, the Aloha State proposed a gambling bill that made it through the House of Representatives in 2024. It died in the Senate, but groundwork has been laid for progress in the near future.
  • Minnesota: The legalization of Minnesota sports betting in 2024 was initially portrayed as formality. It ultimately failed, but the state seems to be inching closer toward approval every year.
  • Missouri: Sports betting in Missouri continues to lack adequate support in the Senate, but pro sports teams are currently in the process of petitioning for a gambling bill to appear on the 2024 electoral ballot.
  • Oklahoma: Sports betting in Oklahoma won’t be legalized until local tribes and the governor’s office begin collaborating. That said, various efforts have been made over the years to push legislation through.
  • Texas: The state legislature didn’t meet in 2024, but sports betting in Texas is expected to feature prominently on the 2026 agenda.

The other four states without legal sports betting—Idaho, South Carolina, Alaska, Utah—have not discussed legislation in the recent past.

Could Idaho Sports Betting be the Last Domino to Fall?

To answer this question simply: Yes. 

As we outline above, at least eight of the 12 remaining states are more likely to legalize sports gambling before Idaho. We would also add sports betting in South Carolina to that list as well. Policymakers continue to show disdain for the practice, but the launch of North Carolina sports betting coupled with the state’s allowance of daily fantasy sites suggests they’ll eventually get over the hump.

Alaska and Utah are different stories. Alaska is so disconnected from the contiguous USA sports scene that it may never view the legalization of gambling as priority. Utah, meanwhile, is perhaps the most conservatively religious state in the country. Poll any number of experts, and many will say that Utah is the state least likely to ever legalize sports betting.

After Utah, though, Idaho could be the next least likely. The internal motivation doesn’t appear to be there, and equally important, the best online betting sites in the United States won’t begin lobbying to change laws while they still have glitzier markets such as Texas and California to focus on.

In the end, it all adds up to one conclusion: At best, the outlook of Idaho sports betting is unknowable. At worst, there is no outlook of which to speak at all.

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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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