Gambling used to be a popular past time in Idaho. The early twentieth century saw a gambling-friendly Idaho in which gambling was legal and had the support of the state’s residents. At that time, the activity was governed by local governments instead of the state government. This local governance may have accounted for its legality; local politicians were arguably more in touch with what residents wanted than politicians stowed away in Boise could be. As a result, early twentieth century Idaho had a lively recreational culture that included the existence of local casinos and parlors at which people could play poker, roulette, and dice for money rather than just for fun.
Legal Gambling in Idaho
However, as the years progressed, a more conservative cultural tide swept the state and all gambling was prohibited. After a number of years of absolutely no gambling, some forms began to be tolerated and legalized. Currently, legal gambling includes the following: the lottery, horse racing and dog racing and pari-mutuel betting, casinos with blackjack, roulette, poker, craps, baccarat, and Keno. The caveat, unfortunately, is that people may play these games for fun but not for money. Slot machines – a famous staple of casinos in places such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City – are also illegal. Bookmaking and pool selling are illegal because as defined by the law, they are only constructed for the illegal purpose for betting money for chance. Most illegal gambling activities such as participating in pools, bookmaking, etc. constitute misdemeanors.
Although participating in games of chance with the intent to win money is prohibited, there is no word from the legislature on online gambling. This is not necessarily because Idaho holds the position that online gambling is consistent with its laws but more so because it takes much political cooperation to pass laws, even when there appears to be consensus. Bill making is a complex process that can also be quite protracted. Current Idaho law states prohibits gambling entities “to employ any electronic or electromechanical imitation or simulation of any form of casino gambling” (Section 20). This may seem to point in the direction of a sanction against online gambling but it is nonetheless too ambiguous to argue, for example, in a court of law.
Recently, there has been a movement to increase the forms of gambling allowed in the state. However, there appears to have been considerable setbacks, including the fact that one central state gambling operation allegedly lied about the types of gambling it would offer at the site, prompting former proponents to cut back on their support. Lawmakers, in particular, noted feeling “duped” by operators who did not fully disclose their commercial intentions.
Casinos in Idaho
There are three casinos in the state. They include the following:
- Clearwater River Casino & Resort in Lewiston
- Coeur d’Alene Casino in Worley
- Fort Hall Casino in Fort Hall