(Population of 1.634 million as of 2014)
When you think of poker, Idaho is not a state that comes to mind (other than the fact it’s the home state of [PLAYER="kevin-macphee"]Kevin MacPhee[/PLAYER]). That’s not too surprising considering poker was nonexistent in the state until Coeur D’Alene Casino, which is located in the northern part of the state across the border from Spokane, Washington, expanded their gaming options by adding a poker room.
Given that, it should come as no surprise that the state isn’t in the iGaming conversation. In fact, the last time Idaho made a peep was back in 2011 when the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) reversed its position on the 1961 Wire Act. That is when two state legislators weighed in via the Idaho Reporter, and the outlook wasn’t good.
“It depends on how it would be structured," said Jeff Anderson, executive director of the Idaho State Lottery, who admitted any iGaming plans would require they reexamine the state lottery. "We want to make sure that we’re sensitive to the brick-and-mortar retail network for the basic scratch games. And, we would need legislative and the governor’s approval and we have not suggested that we go down that path in Idaho. But, we do support states’ rights for those that wish to do so.”
“I don’t think it is possible in Idaho, at least not in the present (political) environment," said Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens. "I would look at it closely to see if it would be something that I would support. But I don’t see, at least for this coming session, that popping up. It seems to me there are too many other issues right now that have got the Legislature pretty much involved and I don’t think that online gambling is going to be something that will come up this session... It’s not something that you would definitely want to write off in the future, but I would say it won’t happen in the present environment.”
Likewise, those sentiments were echoed by Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian. In an email to IdahoReporter.com, he said, “I think that the other states' 'rush' to get that business will result in few dollars for them as that market is already pretty much saturated with private companies already offering the same services (many outside the U.S. borders that have never had to worry about U.S. laws over the Internet).
"Idaho needs to have a revenue source that is not a 'me too' type of business. We have the potential for natural gas production royalties that could substantially add to our state revenue helping offset income and sales taxes in the future. We need to think outside the box and not follow the crowd in how we look for revenue needed to provide for constitutional state services.”
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden just turned down daily fantasy sports from operating in the state because it was too close to gambling. The only current forms of gambling allowed by the state constitution are the state lottery, pari-mutuel betting, bingo and raffle games, according to Legal Sports Report.
Idaho’s horse racing industry is currently in a standoff over its instant horse racing terminals, betting machines where bettors can wager prior to the races. In 2013, the betting machines were approved, but in 2015, they were banned due to worries that the state legislature had the wool pulled over their eyes and legalized slots by accident, World Casino News reported.
If even the potential of legalizing slots makes for a quick legal turnover, it’s not probable that legislation will turn over soon for online gaming unless relating to horse racing.