How Much Revenue Might Idaho Sports Betting Bring Each Year?

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 8, 2023 12:00 AM
How much money would Idaho sports betting revenue generate?

Most still consider Idaho sports betting little more than a distant possibility that remains at least a few years away. Some have even classified legal gambling as an "impossibility," suggesting the state will never take the plunge that more than half of the United States has already completed.

Almost needless to say, this is a complicated subject. And it gets a lot tougher this time of year. The 2023 Idaho legislative sessions ended all the way back in April. Information on sports betting was scarce during that time. Concrete updates are fewer and further between now. Policymakers are no longer in the same room as often or at a meaningful scale. Issues that (potentially) require constitutional amendments are not actively being discussed.

That invariably leads us to analyze the most unsettled matters relating to Idaho sports betting. And this time around, we're focusing on one question with a two-fold answer: How much revenue might Idaho be leaving on the table by not embracing the legalization of sports betting?

Why Idaho Sports Betting Has Remained So Low on the State's List of Priorities

Before we delve into the finances of sports betting in Idaho, we first need to understand why they matter. And in The Gem State's case, they matter a whole lot. Because, as it turns out, the primary reason Idaho has seldom shown interest in sports betting is a collective belief that it's not worth the trouble.

On the rare occasions gambling has been discussed among lawmakers, the state's lack of a professional sports market almost always comes up. Idaho houses one powerhouse college football team, in the Boise State Broncos. The prevailing sentiment is that interest in sports betting won't be too high given the complete absence of clubs across all five major North American leagues: NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS.

This is not an unreasonable assumption to make. It is legitimized further by Idaho's relatively infinitesimal population. They rank 38th in total residents, with a little over 1.9 million people. 

Coupled with a bare-bones in-state sports market, can Idaho actually make that much money off legal gambling from such a modest population? In all honesty: Yes, they can.

Rough Projections for Yearly Sports Betting Revenue in Idaho

The performance of legal sports betting in West Virginia ends up being a great proxy for what could happen in Idaho. West Virginia boasts a slightly smaller population, at around 1.8 million people. And like Idaho, they do not have any professional sports teams directly in their market. Beyond college football and basketball programs, West Virginia residents are left to root for pro sports organizations from surrounding states.

And yet, West Virginia still legalized sports betting as quickly as possible. The Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in early 2018. West Virginia signed sports betting into law almost immediately.

Since then, West Virginia has earned a combined $102.7 million in sports betting revenue. That's roughly $20 million per year. While some states have a budget surplus and might not need that extra cash flow, Idaho isn't one of them. They aren't in a position to turn away $20 million per year.

Skeptics will point out that West Virginia is closer to major sports markets. That's fair. But even if Idaho's revenue is half of West Virginia's, we're still talking about an extra $10 million per year. That's more than afterthought money—especially when you consider Idahoans already partake in sports wagering.

State Residents are Already Finding a Way Around Idaho Sports Betting Laws

A piece in the Idaho Statesman detailed how state residents are finding workarounds and betting on sports anyway. Idaho is close enough to other states with legal sports betting for residents to take a drive. Many are also figuring out how to bet with the best online sportsbooks in the United States thanks to the convenience of mobile apps. Here's an excerpt from that article, which was written by Martin Green:

"Legal sports betting apps are now available in most neighboring states, including Montana, Wyoming, Nevada and Oregon. Washington State has retail sports betting, but it has not yet introduced online sportsbooks. Yet it is highly likely that Idaho is losing tax dollars to Montana, Wyoming, Nevada and Oregon. For example, anyone living in the south of the state can drive over the border, download a betting app and start placing bets. Idahoans can also head west to use the DraftKings app in Oregon, east to place bets via BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel in Wyoming or northeast to use the lottery-run app in Montana."

It is impossible to know just how much money Idaho forfeits to surrounding states. Clearly, though, it's happening. And that could eventually be the impetus that gets lawmakers thinking more seriously about the legalization of sports betting. They may not think it's worth the legwork, but there's less sense in turning away money that's already being spent.

Whether these projections resonate with the state will be a matter of course. The last time Idaho talked about sports betting in an official capacity, certain officials pointed to other states that missed their anticipated revenue marks as evidence The Gem State's market has an unsavory risk-reward profile. 

Still, if they ever decide to conduct a study or poll on how many people support sports betting or are already betting on sports, they might find that the results surprise them—and potentially outstrip their expectations.

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:

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    Bovada
    4.3/5
    50% bonus up to $250
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetOnline
    4.1/5
    100% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    BetUS
    4.4/5
    125% up to $2,500
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Xbet
    4.3/5
    $500 Sign-up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4.5/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • MyBookie
    50% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Bookmaker
    100% up to $400
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Sportsbetting
    3.6/5
    50% up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EveryGame
    $500 Sign Up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • WagerWeb
    3.5/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetDSI
    3.3/5
    100% up to $500 + $500 at BetDsi's Casino
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4.3/5
    100% up to $450
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

Online Sports Betting may receive compensation if you sign up through our links. Rest assured, we avoid biases and provide honest opinions on sportsbooks. Read our affiliate disclosure here.