Idaho Casinos and Gambling
Idaho, sometimes known by the nickname of the “Gem State,” became the 43rd state admitted into the Union when it was officially recognized in 1890. Famous for its mountainous regions and vast crops of potatoes, the state has never been synonymous with either sports or gambling. In fact, it wasn’t until 1992 that significant legislation was passed regarding the latter.
This article deals with Idaho casinos and gambling throughout the state. Whether you’re looking to purchase a scratch-off ticket from a local convenience store or wager on horse racing, the information provided below should provide an adequate picture of whether or not you’ll be able to do so.
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Idaho Gambling Laws
According to Statute 18-3801 of Idaho law, gambling is defined as “risking any money, credit, deposit or other thing of value for gain contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, the operation of a gambling device or the happening or outcome of an event, including a sporting event, the operation of casino gambling including, but not limited to, blackjack, craps, roulette, poker, baccarat or keno.” This does not, however, include contests of speed, strength, endurance, and skill, as well as games that only award additional play.
Under the laws of the Idaho Constitution, the state prohibits most forms of gambling within its borders. Failure to comply is considered a misdemeanor, and all county attorneys, police officers, constables, and sheriffs are required to prosecute and inform against any individual in violation of the law.
Section 20, subsection 1 of the Idaho Constitution makes the following exceptions to the restrictions on gambling:
• State Lottery
• Pari-mutuel Betting (this only applies to horse racing, as greyhound racing has been made illegal in the state)
• Bingo and Raffle Games Conducted by Charitable Organizations for Charitable Purposes
Idaho Indian Casinos
Thanks to an agreement between the federal government and Native American tribes across the United States, Indians are allowed to ignore state law when it comes to the construction and operation of casinos. While these facilities are illegal everywhere else in the state, customers can travel onto tribal lands and enjoy the following types of games: bingo, slots, video poker, poker, and electronic versions of keno, craps, roulette, and blackjack.
The following are the Native casinos now in operation within Idaho:
• Bannock Peak Casino
• Clearwater River Casino & Lodge
• Coeur D’Alene Casino Resort Hotel
• Fort Hall Casino & Hotel
• It’se Ye-Ye Bingo & Casino
• Kootenai River Inn Casino & Spa
• Sage Hill Travel Center & Casino
Pari Mutuel Racing in Idaho
Pari-mutuel betting allows customers to place their wager in pools, and winnings are then paid back to those who made successful picks. With the exception of a small percentage being taken by the host, almost all money is returned to the bettors. This form of wagering is common among dog and horse racing, although only the latter is considered legal in the state of Idaho.
The following locations offer legal gambling on horseracing within the state of Idaho. Some also offer slot machines and historic horse racing machines.
• Pocatello Downs
• Oneida County Fair Horse Racing
• Les Bois Park (live horse racing and simulcast greyhound racing)
• Ida Racing at Sandy Downs
• Greyhound Park & Event Center (live greyhound events are banned, but races from other states are simulcast)
• Emmett Horse Racing at the Gem County Fair
• Eastern Idaho Fair Horse Racing
• Double Down Betting Sports Bar & Grill
• Cassia County Fair Horse Races
Slot Machine Ownership
Throughout the United States, various regulations and restrictions exist when it comes to a private citizen owning slot machines. Some states allow their residents to legally own any machine they can get their hands on, while others prohibit any form of ownership.
In Idaho, ID Code 18-3810 states that legal residents can own any slot machine manufactured before 1950. This limits collectors and slots enthusiasts to the old-school “one-armed bandits” with physical reels, while casinos are free to offer any form of electronic slot without worrying about competition. It should be noted, however, that the law limits collectors to displaying their antique slots, and any operation of these games is considered illegal.
In 1988, Idaho residents approved a state lottery via a constitutional amendment vote, and the first drawing took place 200 days later. Lottery drawings are held every night of the week, and the minimum age to play is 18.
The government of Idaho is a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association, and this affiliation allows them to take part in a number of multi-state drawings for bigger payouts. Some of the more popular examples include the following: Hot Lotto, Mega Millions, Wild Card 2, Powerball, and Lucky for Life.
In addition to the above games, Idaho also offers Bingo, Pick 3, and Weekly Grand on a state level. The latter costs $2 per entry, is drawn twice a week, and offers a top prize of $1,000 tax free per week for a year.
The income from the lottery is dispersed in the following manner:
• 60% – Prize Money
• 25% -Public Schools and Permanent Buildings
• 6% – Idaho Lottery Retailers
• 4% – Game Support
• 3% – Administrative Costs
• 2% – Advertising
Idaho Scratch Cards and PullTabs
In addition to the daily lottery drawings, the state also makes scratch games and pulltabs available through hundreds of licensed vendors. Each year, 50 different scratch card games are issued to the public, with prices ranging from $1 to $20 per card. PullTabs are more often found in establishments such as bars and restaurants, and the cost of playing typically runs from $0.25 to $1.
Most forms of gambling can be enjoyed throughout the state, even though Idaho casinos are prohibited by law. This is due to the presence of gaming establishments on Native American soil, so locals and tourists can still get their fix while remaining in compliance with state regulations. Pari-mutuel betting and lottery drawings are also available, although sportsbetting can’t be found anywhere in any legal form.
While not exactly the gaming center of the nation, Idaho does offer more gambling options than a number of states in America. When you factor in the availability of online slots and other games of chance, there’s little reason for residents to complain.