The Idaho state government continues to make an enemy out of sports betting enthusiasts. And it doesn't sound like that will change anytime soon.
Many were already resigned to sports betting in Idaho remaining on the indefinite back burner. The state has shown such little interest in the topic that we don't know when the process to legalize sports betting might even start—or what it will even look like.
Idaho further locked itself into this longstandiing disinterest during the November 8 elections. We'll have more on this in a second. But their position is no longer only about the imminent future of Idaho sports betting. It's about the bigger picture.
And based on what we know, many people are wondering whether there's a chance that Idaho will never legalize sports betting.
Idaho State Government Remains Staunchly Against Legal Sports Betting
Select places in the United States without sports betting saw their fortunes turn for the better during 2022 Election Day. Minnesota, for instance, saw the Democratic party gain control of the state senate, which paves the way for them to potentially pass a sports betting bill in the near future.
There was no such change in the Idaho state government structure on November 8. Incumbent Governor Mike Crapo, a devout Republican, was re-elected with more than 60 percent of the vote, and he has never once opened the door to the legalization of sports betting. This all but guarantees sports betting will remain off the table in Idaho until at least the next election term.
Granted, nobody quite expected any of Crapo's challengers to unseat. David Roth, the Democratic party candidate, came in second. And he didn't even receive 29 percent of the popular vote. The race wasn't close. And even if it was, Roth's sports betting stance isn't entirely clear. The Democratic party generally favors some type of betting market, even if they only legalize on-site establishments. But the Democrats in Idaho are more like right-leaning moderates. Many, if not most, of them are against legal sports betting.
This makes it tough to envision Idaho ever having a candidate for governor who supports pro-gambling measures. If and when they get one, a few questions still remain: How strongly will that candidate support legal sports betting in Idaho? Will it be a primary issue? A secondary issue? Will it be something they only give cursory consideration? And most importantly, if Idaho ever has a staunchly pro-sports betting candidate, will they actually win?
That last question is tough to answer. Polls are typically conducted to find out how constituents feel about sports betting. To the best of our knowledge, though, there has never been an extensive one done in Idaho. Given the overwhelming support of Republican candidates over the past few decades, along with a population that still skews middle age, the prevailing sentiment is that the voting public hovers somewhere between "flat-out against" and "totally indifferent" to Idaho legal sports betting.
This is Why Idaho Sports Betting May Never Happen
All of us have the tendency to make sports betting issues about the here and now—and about sports betting alone. But sometimes, a state's aversion goes deeper. And that's exactly the case with the Idaho state government.
This isn't just a branch of local government that has shown short-term opposition to sports betting alone. Anti-sports betting stances are ingrained into Idaho's DNA. They actually took legal action to prevent Daily Fantasy Sports from taking place inside the state back in 2016. That illustrates a real commitment to the prevention of gambling. So many states that don't have sports betting allow Daily Fantasy Sports, including holdouts such as Texas.
But wait, there's more. As Jeff Edelstein wrote for USBets.com, Idaho has a long history of trying to prohibit almost every form of gaming imaginable:
"Idaho: The state that chased away daily fantasy sports in 2016 … the state that won’t allow historical horse racing … the state that — and this is nutballs — just dropped out of Powerball because some legislators were worried the Australian government would use Idaho lottery player money to fund anti-gun legislation (really) … yeah. No one is holding their breath waiting for Idaho to legalize sports betting."
If anything, the Idaho state government only seems to be strengthening their opposition of sports betting. That doesn't bode well for the future of gambling in the Potato State.
Sports Betting Hope in Idaho is Wearing Thin, But Not Lost
This all seems very doom and gloom at the moment, and we're not here to deny it. But hope isn't entirely lost.
For starters, Idahoans can always check out our reviews of the top online sportsbooks. This catalog of information is loaded with reputable sites that will allow just about anyone in the United States to set up and operate sports betting accounts. There are also a handful of neighboring states with legal sports betting that Idaho residents can visit.
Beyond that, when it comes to legalized sports betting in Idaho, you should never say never. The state must warm up to a lottery first in all likelihood, which doesn't look great right now. But Idaho has not yet tried to eradicate all forms of gaming. Eight casinos are located in separate cities across the state. And so long as tribal casinos are up and running, there will always be some semblance of a chance that Idaho is successfully lobbied to change their mind on legal sports betting.
It just won't be anytime soon.
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that meets all of your sports betting needs: