Industry Experts on Sports Betting in Idaho: 'It'll Never Happen'

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 28, 2023 12:00 AM
Sports betting in Idaho will remain a pipe dream for some time.

The outlook for the legalization of Idaho sports betting has always been considered bleak. They are among the strictest states when it comes to all matters of gambling, so their reluctance to green light sports wagering over the past half-decade was expected. But most have always assumed sports betting in Idaho would eventually materialize. It has to, doesn't it?

Not everyone's so sure.

Speaking on an Action Network podcast, sports gambling industry experts Eric Raskin and Jeff Edelstein had a sobering exchange for anyone who is holding out hope legal betting comes to Idaho in the near future. "[Which will be the] last two states to legalize sports betting?" Raskin posed. "Utah and Idaho," Edelstein responded. "It'll never happen."

"Never" is such a strong word. In most cases, it would border on hyperbole.

As it pertains to sports betting in Idaho, though, the word "never" may actually be spot-on.

The Current State of Sports Betting in Idaho

It would be easy to poke holes in Edelstein's succinct-yet-strong take if it wasn't so damn ironclad. The question of "What's the latest on Idaho sports betting?" is always met with some variation of the same response: Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. No news. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

These party lines haven't changed to open up 2023. Sports betting in Idaho has not even been considered a tangential topic during the state's legislative meetings. Some initially thought there would be pressure to legalize Idaho sports betting because so many other states have done it—more than half of the country. That turned out to be a misplaced projection. Legal sports betting continues to be treated like the red-headed stepchild of policies. Most Idaho officials don't even acknowledge it's a possibility, let alone entertain it.

On many levels, this isn't so surprising. Sports betting laws by state tend to mirror overarching policy trends. States with more liberal leanings usually embrace it. (California sports betting, of course, is the obvious exception.) The Potato State continues to skew exceedingly conservative. That puts sports betting in Idaho at an inherent disadvantage right out of the gate.

Granted, even conservative-leaning states have legalized sports betting. Plenty of them have made the transition, in fact. Typically, though, you can sense shifting winds based on how they handle other liberal-leaning issues. Daily Fantasy Sports and marijuana are the Big Two in this regard. If "Red" states are willing to discuss or legalize them, then the push to get sports betting is hardly impossible.

Well, Idaho continues to oppose both the legalization of Daily Fantasy Sports and marijuana use. Much like the issue of Idaho sports betting, they don't even discuss these matters. They're unspoken—or barely spoken—no-nos. This is all to say, not even the most stubborn of hopeful romantics can find silver linings in Idaho's gambling stance.

Why is Idaho So Opposed to Sports Betting?

Opposition to Idaho sports betting is driven by many factors. Moral standards, concerns over gambling addiction and the logistics of setting up a sports betting infrastructure are the most commonly cited items. They're all accurate, too.

However, the absence of sports betting in Idaho is also the byproduct of skepticism. Numerous officials have argued there won't be a professional sports betting market in Idaho. After all, the state isn't home to any pro teams. The Boise State Division I football program is their biggest draw, and they'd have to ensure betting on college football would be legalized as part of any bill.

Others, meanwhile, insist the state is doing just fine with their current gaming laws. At present, Idaho rakes in profits from a state lottery, pari-mutuel betting, charitable gambling and seven different Native American-operated casinos. Skeptics don't see sports betting adding that much value to profit margins and have also indicated the process of rolling it out would be unnecessarily tedious.

Is There a Market for Sports Betting in Idaho?

Many of the concerns officials have about bringing sports betting to Idaho are absolutely fair. But the issues of logistics and interest aren't one of them.

For starters, Idaho wouldn't totally be assembling their infrastructure from scratch. They have systems in place to handle pari-mutuel wagering and the state lottery. Those same systems have helped streamline the rollout of sports betting in other states.

Furthermore, Idahoans are absolutely interested in betting on sports. You don't need in-market franchises to be a professional sports fan. Residents of Idaho root for a broad spectrum of teams across all four major North American leagues. Additionally, GeoTracker data showed that there were thousands of attempts from people in Idaho to place bets with online sportsbooks in Nevada around both the NFL's Super Bowl and the College Football National Championship.

Does this seem like a state full of people uninterested in sports wagering? Not at all. And remember, this data doesn't even include those who successfully bet with top online sportsbooks abroad. There is absolutely a market for sports betting in Idaho; to say anything else is flat-out inaccurate.

Of course, these sentiments ultimately ring hollow in practice. Idaho's hypocritical stance won't suddenly be flipped on its head. The state will likely need an overhaul in leadership throughout the House of Representatives and Senate before they start seriously reconsidering the future of sports gambling. Regardless of how you look at it, though, it's clear Idaho remains years away from the legalization of sports betting. You should never say "never," but in this case, you shouldn't say "soon," either.

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.