Most states across the country have moved toward legalizing sports betting — with more than 30 states already on board. Idaho is not like most states, however. The "Potato State", as it's affectionately dubbed, appears to have zero appetites for legal sports betting and there are no signs that are changing anytime soon.
Zero Movement For Sports Betting In Idaho
Never mind that there are no sports betting laws in Idaho, but we're taken back at how it hasn't even been brought up once. Nothing. Nada. Zip.
In the almost four years since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was struck down by federal courts — thus allowing legal sports betting USA-wide, state permitting — no Idaho lawmaker has submitted a bill to legalize it. That puts Idaho in a small class of states (that includes Hawaii and Utah) that have seemingly expressed no interest in monetizing sports betting.
The only form of sports betting currently legal inside Idaho is horse racing. This can be done in person at popular tracks within the state —Pocatello Downs or Oneida Downs — or via mobile devices (operators like BetAmerica, TVG, and TwinSpires) exist.
The lack of interest from Idaho legislators on the issue makes it impossible to even guesstimate if legal sports betting will ever become a thing inside the state. At least in other straggler states (e.g. Alaska or Kentucky), there's one staunch lawmaker trying to drum up support for a bill. At the moment, no such thing exists for Idaho.
Why Is There Such A Hesitation For Sports Betting Inside Idaho?
This is quite literally a million-dollar question since the state is leaving potential tax revenue on the table by not passing some form of legalized sports wagering. Idaho is neighbored by three states — Montana, Nevada, and Oregon — that do allow gambling on sports, and a fourth, Washington, is expected to get in on the fun soon. Therefore, state residents have nearby options if they need to "scratch their itch."
We have a few theories. One is the presence of tribal-based casinos. There are about eight different brick-and-mortar casinos inside Idaho, all of which operate under tribal gaming licenses. We'd guess none of them want their "territory" invaded by the mobile-only betting platforms that dominate the industry US-wide. Sure, the local casinos could lobby to keep any form of legal sports betting restricted to in-person, but then again, maybe the revenue from it is peanuts compared to, say, slot machines.
And reason number two, a large portion of the Idaho population identifies with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormonism). Being right next to Utah, Idaho has the third-highest Mormon population in the country (California is second). Gambling is strictly against the LDS faith and surely, members of the church have some semblance of influence over the state's politics.
But unlike Utah, Idaho does allow betting in some capacity elsewhere. Not just with the tribal casinos, but also through a state-run lottery system. This is why we're so surprised legalized Idaho sports betting hasn't even been up for discussion, little less a bill being drafted. Never say never, but it seems like we're a ways away from betting on sports to be a thing in the Potato State.
Idaho Betting Opportunities Are Small But Existent
Sure, Idaho might be one of the smallest states in the Union population-wise (less than two million), but that doesn't mean it lacks an appetite for sports and the wagering that comes with it. The state has a vibrant sports tradition, primarily focused on college athletics, with the biggest teams being the Idaho vandals, the Idaho State Bengals, and of course, the Boise State Broncos.
Moreover, the state also houses two independent minor league baseball teams, the Boise Hawks and Idaho Falls Chukars of the Pioneer League. In addition, Boise is home to the Idaho Steelheads, a minor league affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. This helps make up for its lack of pro teams.
So for the Idaho sports fan reading this and with an urge to bet, we'd recommend looking into the offshore betting market, which is rich with sites that'll take your gambling action. We've listed the very top offshore platforms in the underneath table. Also included in this table are updated sportsbook reviews so you can compare and contrast them. You might want to get familiar with these sites cause, as we said, it's going to be a long time before Idaho ever legalizes sports gambling. A long, long time.
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