Online Poker and Gambling Laws in Idaho
2021 Update: Can I Play Online Poker in Idaho?
There are still no laws regulating online poker in Idaho and it doesn’t look like that’s changing anytime soon. A good weathervane on whether a state is going to legalize online poker is sports betting. After a 2018 Supreme Court ruling opened the way for states to legalize sports betting, many followed suit. Now ⅓ of states allow some form of sports betting.
Idaho hasn’t made any steps in this direction though. Part of the problem is that Idaho has laws that explicitly prohibit sports betting. The state would have to repeal those laws before any type of legalization takes place. This is a hurdle most states don’t have.
Online Poker in Idaho and the Law in Idaho
Idaho has strict gambling laws and has limited betting in the states. There are tribal casinos, but aside from that there are charitable gaming situations and pari-mutuel betting. There are no race tracks in the state or commercial casinos. All these are defined as gambling under state statute 18-3801. This statute defines gambling as:
“Gambling means 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.”
Most state statutes don’t list specific games and rely on the word “chance.” This normally gives poker leeway since a federal judge ruled it to be a game of skill in 2012. But here, Idaho explicitly lists poker in its definition of gambling. Interestingly enough, the state statute says games of skill are allowed.
The statute goes on to list what is not considered gambling:
- Bonafide contests of skill, speed, strength or endurance in which awards are made only to entrants or the owners of entrants.
- Bonafide business transactions which are valid under the law of contracts.
- Games that award only additional play.
- Merchant promotional contests and drawings conducted incidentally to bona fide non-gaming business operations if prizes are awarded without consideration being charged to participants.
- Other acts or transactions now or hereafter expressly authorized by law.
This is an interesting push-and-pull when it comes to poker. It’s something the state would have to address before regulation online poker too.
Legal Gambling in Idaho
While there’s still no regulated online poker or sports betting in Idaho yet, there are some forms of gambling. The state has tribal casinos, a state lottery, pari-mutuel betting and charitable gaming.
Section 20 of Article III of Idaho’s Constitution, Article III says what is and isn’t allowed. It also says gambling is contrary to public policy and is strictly prohibited. The exceptions are
- A state lottery
- Pari-mutuel betting
- Bingo and raffle games by qualified charitable organizations
There are also tribal casinos in the state. Indian reservations have their own legal jurisdiction and aren’t bound by state laws. There are several casinos operated by four tribes. These casinos offer a number of games, even poker. Click here for a list of casinos.
Can I Play on PokerStars in Idaho?
Not anymore. Before Black Friday in 2011, PokerStars was one of the largest poker sites in the United States, including Idaho. Now, if you’re looking to play online poker in Idaho, PokerStars isn’t an option. Luckily there are a few PokerStars alternatives for players in Idaho. Sites like Ignition Poker and Americas Cardroom accept players from all over the US. We’ve also reviewed these sites and found that they offer a top-notch poker experience. So if you want to play poker in Idaho, you have some options. Read our reviews below and find a site that’s good for you:
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