With no major professional sports teams about which to brag, Idaho is not known for its progressive gambling laws. Sure, it plays home to the Boise State Broncos college basketball and football teams, but the state elects not to update its policies because it faces no real call to action. Most importantly, sports gambling of every kind is not outlawed in Idaho, but in some ways, it might as well be.
Idaho Sports Betting Law
They are one of the only states that outlaws poker completely, and it's not an advocate for table games within any of its 30-plus casinos. It's a bizarre line to draw, but alas, they've opted to draw it, and those who live within in the state must abide by it.
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Loads of Tribal-Owned Casinos
At this writing, more than 30 casinos can be found in Idaho. They are made up mostly of electronic games and slots, and while they are hot-button weekend destinations for residents, these establishments market that goodwill through various forms of live entertainment rather than the gambling itself. Table games are not prevalent; most of them aren't even legal, including poker.
Poker Is Explicitly Forbidden
Yes, the aforementioned tidbit is true: Poker is illegal in Idaho. And it's not just because all table games are banned. Poker technically can't even be played in the comfort of your own home. To answer your question, yes, this is absolutely a weird hill to die on. But some conservative lawmakers were up in arms when casinos were allowed to introduce progressive slots, so residents of Idaho should probably count themselves as lucky enough to indulge in any kind of gambling at all.
Horse Racing and Bingo Are Primary Forms of Live-Betting
If you need to scratch your live-gambling itch, the best—and, really, only way—to do it is with horse or dog racing, in addition to bingo events. These replace table games like craps and roulette as Idaho's legal methods of non-electronic gambling.
Daily Fantasy Betting Is Illegal
Like most other states, Idaho doesn't have a plan in place to explicitly prohibit online gaming, but it's views on that industry are made more or less clear through their refusal to legalize daily fantasy gambling. Despite repeated attempts to the contrary, entering contests and weekly or daily leagues at places like FanDuel and Draft Kings is a non-starter.
And to be honest, this must be expected. States that impose hardline stances typically follow through across the board. Idaho has steered hard into forms of gambling that are harder to capitalize on outside official establishments, such as dog and horse racing, bingo and electronic gaming. It's no coincidence they've banned table-style games and something like fantasy wagering—forms of gambling they'll have a much harder time controlling.
Idaho Gambling Law Overview
Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren't allowed in Idaho at this time.
- Casino Gambling: Legal (except for Tribal)
- Tribal Gambling: Legal (but no table games)
- Poker: Not legal
- Horse-Race Betting: Legal
- Dog-Race Betting: Legal
- Lottery: Legal
- Daily Fantasy Betting: Not legal
- Social Gambling: Not legal
- Charitable Gambling: Legal (lots of restrictions apply
- Online Gambling: Unspecified
Idaho Sports Teams
Please note that since Idaho doesn't have any of its own big-time teams at the professional levels, we will also be going off which squads are most often rooted for by their residents.
Boise State Broncos (College Football)
Boise State football is essentially a way of life in Idaho. It's the only major sport in town, so to speak, and fans feed off the electric atmosphere in the 37,000-seat Albertsons Statidum. The Broncos are routinely ranked in the top 10 of the AP's top-25 poll and have earned some sort of Bowl Game appearance in every year since 2002.
Boise State Broncos (College Basketball)
The Boise State Broncos basketball team doesn't receive nearly as much national or local recognition as its football brethren, but they have been climbing the ranks over the past few years. Since 2007-08, they've only twice finished with a losing record while earning three NCAA March Madness tournament appearances. And in 2014-15, they actually cracked the top 25 in the AP poll.
Seattle Seahawks (NFL)
With no NFL team of which to speak, the Seattle Seahawks have monopolized Idaho's professional football interests. Proximity of course has a little something to do with the results, but it helps that the Seahawks have developed into a powerhouse over the last half-decade or so, even winning a Super Bowl in 2013. It helps even more that they have such a marketable star at quarterback in Russell Wilson. So while we could expect the Seahawks to remain the apple of Idaho's football affections anyway, it's complete ownership share of their fandom doesn't have to be guaranteed.
And yet, it somehow is.
Idaho's Biggest Sporting Event of the Year
There is no recurring hallmark sporting event that takes place in Idaho. It changes every year.
For 2017, the must-see event is the X-Games qualifier, which will be hosted, of course, at Boise—the center of everything related to sports in Idaho. World renowned skateboarders and BMX riders will compete for the right to participate in the X-Games' main event in Minneapolis later this year.
There is no charge for admission to this; it's basically open to the public, since the event earns its money from the sponsorships and ad revenue it generates from being aired on ESPN and ABC.