Idaho Gambling Laws + Statutes

The United States are positively riddles with heroic stories and tall tales involving iconic gamblers. Despite how the word or actual act of “gambling” may make one feel, no one ever pictures a seedy criminal when they think of a “gambler,” only a sly figure like Steve McQueen or a tragic hero from a Tennessee Williams play. Don't be one of those charachters, learn about Idaho gambling laws and wager worry-free.

However, in life, fantasy and reality very rarely meet. While the romantic ideals of gambling may not hold water, what does hold water is that, according to many “gamblers” out there, gambling can be both a hobby that both provides some excitement and can even be a little profitable when done safely and responsibly. Many residents of Idaho report to not take advantage of gambling not due to a lack of interest, but rather due to the false belief that so much as betting on a single hand of poker can land a guilty party rotting away in a jail cell.

The federal stance on gambling is that while the facilitation of illicit gambling is a very serious crime, the actual participation in such games is left well enough alone, with no federal legislation at all devoted to punishing the act. Many states use this as a template while most, including Idaho, also add their own legislation to the mix.

Laws concerning gambling in individual states can be confusing. That’s why this page was written to help guide Idaho residents through a complex step-by-step breakdown of the legal policy in their home state regarding gambling. In addition to clearing up the legal landscape, this page will also help Idaho residents find the safest means to gamble possible so that they may wager a couple bucks on a hot card game with no fear of rotting away in jail.

Is It Legal To Gamble In Idaho?

Although Idaho does indeed use federal laws regarding gambling as a template for how their legislation proceeds, they do take matters a step further by defining the act of gambling and designating a special punishment for it. In accordance with chapter 18-3801 of state legislation, the act of “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.”

This definition of gambling touches on the big three in one fell swoop. It eliminated traditional casino games as well as sports betting, while knocking out poker by including the clause that says a game needs only to be “in part” contingent on chance. This may seem like bad news to prospective gamblers in Idaho, but there is good news as well. The commission of this crime qualifies as a misdemeanor for which a minimal legal fee will be applied as well as up to one year of probation. Gambling is not a jail-able offense. One may now be wondering with penalties so light, why do law enforcement agencies bother going after individual gamblers for so small a price? The answer is that they in fact do not.

The small punishment for gambling in Idaho confirms what one may suspect from perusing the state’s arrest records in that the act of betting or wagering is not really punished on an individual basis. These Idaho gambling laws were, are, and always have been targeted towards large criminal syndicates and not individuals who merely wish to place bets.

This does not mean however, that all Idaho residents who engage in all forms of gambling are safely off the hook. If anyone in Idaho is found guilty of “operating a gambling device” or engaging in “bookmaking” in accordance with Idaho legislation chapters 18-3810 and 18-3809 respectively, they face not only a significantly steeper legal penalty, but a great chance of actually being prosecuted for these gambling advances. While still classified as a misdemeanor, this offense can land a guilty party in jail for up to six months as well as a legal fine of up to $1000. All prospective gamblers in Idaho need to be careful to avoid this act!

Difference Between Gambling & Operating a Gambling Device

For those in Idaho who wish to avoid any serious infractions related to gambling, there is luckily enough a great divide in not only the punishments and likelihood of prosecution between “gambling” and “operating a gambling device,” but in the acts themselves, as well.

It’s easy to understand that two people are needed in order to place a bet or play a gambling game for money. The first person, or the “player” needs to walk up to game or make a decision on a wager and hand over some money for the purpose of placing a bet before they are allowed to touch a game. The second person needs to take the money out of that player’s hand and help them begin the game, or make the bet final. This party is “operating” the gambling device, or engaging in “bookmaking,” both seen as equally serious crimes in the state of Idaho.

However, just so that residents are confident that they will not be tossed in jail every time they have company over for a poker game or they put $20 down on the Giants with their father in law, there is one more vitally important component required to be considered guilty of operating a gambling device: the offender must profit from the gambling that they are operating.

This does not mean that by the virtue of wise betting or skillful playing that they wind up ahead at the end of the night during a poker game, this means that they have set themselves up in a position to make money from the gambling regardless of whether they bet or not. Some popular ways of doing this include but are not limited to collecting a “rake” from a game of poker, (a small percentage takes from each pot as profit the house) charging admission purely for the privilege to play at any gambling event, charging for food or drinks during a game, operating a sportsbook in which the operator assumes responsibility for paying out winning bets and collecting from losing bets, usually taking a cut in the process, or operating any traditional casino games as the “house,” who by definition always has the best odds at winning.

Just so long as a resident of Idaho avoids this very specific actions, they should avoid any legal ramifications from gambling at all, as the act of “gambling” will not be pursued by law enforcement agencies nor prosecuted by the courts.

It should also be noted that the rules regarding the “operation” of a gambling device apply whether the game is taking place on land or via the internet. Anyone in Idaho operating a website for the purposes of gambling will face just as steep penalties as if they were running a casino from their basement.

Betting Laws In Idaho

Idaho Sports Betting Laws

Back in 1992, the federal government passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, more commonly referred to as the PASPA. This bill prohibited any states not grandfathered an exception to the law from facilitating any sports betting. Unfortunately, Idaho was not one of the states that was exempt from this policy. This means that even of the state’s stance towards gambling were to soften in the near future, it would not be possible to find any land based sportsbooks without associating with a criminal element.

For this reason, many residents of Idaho have turned to legal online sportsbooks as a means of betting on their favorite sports teams and events. These overseas websites operate as legal and legitimate businesses that allow all US citizens to bet on sports. It’s a good thing they are such a viable betting method, since they are the only option for those in Idaho who do not want to hop a long flight to Vegas.

ID Sports Gambling Laws
Is Sports Betting Legal?
Idaho Sportsbooks
Idaho Casino Gaming Laws

Although the State of Idaho has not sanctioned any gambling facilities in their legislation, there are a few federally exempt tribal gaming facilities in the state. In these buildings, all Idaho residents may freely gamble at any of the table games of video gambling machines they find on premises, including roulette, blackjack, slot machines, or any other gambling games just so long as they remain within the boundaries of the casino.

However, four tribal casinos spread throughout the entirety of Idaho obviously do not go a very long way. If one wants to avoid the long drive or only wants to casually gamble for a little bit of time rather than having to spend a whole weekend away, legal online casinos are an option for Idaho residents, as well.

ID Casino Gambling Laws
Are Casino Games Legal?
Idaho Casinos
Idaho Poker Laws

As of the publication of this webpage, the tribal casinos in Idaho are involved in a long, bitter legal battle concerning the legal status of poker within the state. The casinos are fighting hard for it to be sanctioned, but so far, the legislation has not granted them access to what it easily the most popular (and therefore, most profitable to land based casinos) form of gambling in the entire United States. Stay tuned on this hot legal issue for any developments, but as of now, those in Idaho who wish to play poker in a social, casino environment are out of luck.

Home Games: Luckily, the State of Idaho will not do anything to interfere with the sacred rite of the home game. Whether a resident wants to kick back with some co-workers after work over cards or spend a quiet night in playing poker online, the state of Idaho will not run any interference on these activities.

ID Poker Laws
Is It Legal To Play Poker?
Idaho Poker Rooms

Legal Betting Age: What Is The Gambling Age In Idaho?

For a state that imposes so many restrictions on the facilitation of gambling, Idaho is one of the more generous in the union when it comes to the issue of the legal gambling age. In order to enjoy the tribal casinos, play the lottery, or even place wagers online, Idaho gambling laws say residents need only be 18 years of age or older.

Any minors should take special heed of the legal gambling age, as anyone found gambling underage will be harshly punished not only by the state who will hand out a steep fine and several hours of community service, (not the kind college admission boards like!) but the facility through which they are caught gambling will hand down harsh punishments as well. In addition to instituting a long term ban, the facility will usually seize any funds the guilty party would otherwise be entitles to, including any winnings or deposits made to the casino, be it online or land based.

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Gambling Locations in Idaho

On-Land: Any of the four tribal casinos in Idaho currently offer several slot machines as well as some table games. Although Idaho residents will never be able to bet on sports in a sanctioned facility while the PASPA still stands, they may participate in traditional casino games as well as slot machines. While there is currently a fight in the Idaho Supreme Court going on to legalize poker, it is not yet available in and land based facilities.

Online/Web-Based: With the limited number of land based gambling options in Idaho, it’s a good thing that there are several legal gambling websites open to Idaho residents. By virtue of being located overseas, these legitimate business are able to operate legally based on legislation in their native countries, meaning that there is no risk of the US government shutting them down (anyone hurt by the Black Friday fiasco can breathe a sigh of relief.)

In addition, since these websites operate legally, they are held to rigid standards of both quality and fairness for all members. The reputable international gaming commissions that certify these websites would not stand for anything less.

Top Rated Betting Sites For Idaho Residents

100's of Casino Games, Large Poker Tourneys, Live Wagering

Just as with any industry, there is almost always a name that stands out above the rest and serves as the measuring stick by which all other products are judged. In the realm of online gambling networks, the name is Bovada. After more than 20 years of service to Idaho residents, (which makes them almost as old as the internet itself!) Bovada has turned into the true cream of the crop when it comes to gambling online.

Why, you may ask? Two simple reasons, quality of product and all-star customer service. Whether you’re looking for the most varied and complete sportsbook on the market, the busiest poker room or the online casino with the most cutting edge software, you’ll be pleased with Bovada, and if not, or if any question should arise, you’ll have the backing of Bovada’s all-star, 24 hour customer service phone line at your disposal. At Bovada, you will never be plagued by an answering service, only a human being who will be on the line with you within minutes.

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A Final Word...Getting More Help

While we are confident that the information presented on this page is accurate, we are not legal professionals and therefore this cannot be considered a legal consultation. We always recommend that readers seeking more information proceed to the actual Idaho legal code to view the exact Idaho gambling laws. If all else fails, it is advised that you direct further questions to a qualified legal professional.