The Process to Legalize Idaho Sports Betting Still Hasn't Started, But How Will We Know When It Does?

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Oct 14, 2022 12:00 AM
How will we know if Idaho will ever legalize sports betting?

It has been months since the issue of legal sports betting in Idaho has yielded any new developments. Speculation surrounding a 2022 Idaho state lottery study is the closest we've come to getting a material update to the process. This, of course, is because said process to legalize Idaho sports betting hasn't even started. Not even kind of. Not even sort of. It's not even being talked about in an official capacity.

Recently, though, this enduring inaction has prompted another line of curiosity: How will we know when the process to legalize Idaho sports betting actually begins? Everyone from experts in the industry to prospective sports bettors in Idaho to tribal casinos to corporate retail sportsbooks wants to know the answer.

And we've finally got one.

Laws Must be Re-Written to Help Legalize Idaho Sports Betting

When it comes to legal sports betting, everybody tends to focus on the proposals that originate in the House of Representatives and make their way through the Senate before appearing on a major ballot that state residents vote upon. And that's fine. But in Idaho's case, it's not enough.

Unlike many of the other states that haven't legalized sports betting, Idaho has never once even proposed a piece of sports betting legislature. The United States' federal government gave individual states the power to determine the fate of sports gambling themselves all the way back in 2018, and Idaho has done zero to advance that power. 

At this point, we're not even talking about the absence of sports betting initiatives anymore. To even assemble those proposals, the state of Idaho must rewrite some of its laws to allow for them. Consider this recent excerpt written in the Idaho Statesman:

"Lawmakers in Idaho would need to amend the statute to introduce a legal sports betting industry. Title 18, Chapter 38, states that gambling is illegal, and it defines gambling as 'risking any money, credit, deposit or other thing of value for gain contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, the operation of a gambling device or the happening or outcome of an event, including a sporting event, the operation of casino gambling including, but not limited to, blackjack, craps, roulette, poker, baccarat or keno.'"

When you read through this, it sounds like a heavy lift on the state's part. In reality, it's not. In fact, most states amended their laws to allow for the introduction of sports betting bills almost immediately after the federal government delivered its 2018 ruling. This includes other states that still haven't actually legalized gambling. See, it's not about actually pushing a sports betting bill through. It's about having the option to make that decision at all. And when it comes to matters of tax revenue, even the most conservative and anti-legal-gambling states have preferred flexibility over the hard-line stance Idaho has taken against the subject.

Will Idaho Ever Address Their Legal Sports Betting Stalemate?

Our motto is "Never say never." There will probably come a time when the push to legalize Idaho sports betting becomes more of a priority for the state. But that time isn't now—and it might not come anytime soon.

Many in the sports betting industry were depending on swing states to determine the fate of gambling in other states moving forward. If bigger markets like California, Texas and Florida followed in the footsteps of New York and New Jersey, the absence of legal sports betting in smaller states like Idaho gets harder to deny. Holdout states would be pressured into action by the vast majority of the country heading in a completely opposite direction.

As of now, that pressure doesn't exist.

More than half of the United States has introduced some form of legal sports betting, but Texas and Florida aren't on the verge of hashing out their own issues. On top of that, California is no longer considered a lock to join the legal sports betting ranks when the issue is voted upon in November 2022. On the contrary, a recent poll revealed that both sports betting measures on the 2022 ballot are expected to fail.

This comes as a huge blow for anyone hoping Idaho would pick up the pace. After all, if a liberal Goliath like California isn't embracing sports betting, what's the rush for a smaller fish like Idaho?

Alternative Sports Betting Measures for People in Idaho

Believe us, we wish we had better news for anyone living in Idaho. But the fact is we don't. We do, however, have solutions if you'd like to start betting on sports in Idaho.

If you check out our reviews of the top online sportsbooks, you'll find a host of reputable sites that will let you make an account and begin submitting tickets immediately almost regardless of where you live. Any concerns you might have about going this route will be alleviated by browsing through all the information we've compiled, which covers everything from betting-line availability, transaction speed and overall customer service.

Traveling outside Idaho to bet on sports is also an option. A handful of nearby states are within driving distance if the mood strikes.

Beyond these alternatives, though, there's nothing else to do other than wait for the process to legalize Idaho sports betting to actually begin. Just know that, as of now, it looks like you'll be waiting quite a while.

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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...

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