Gambling in Idaho is alive and well into the late 2010s, with (as of this writing) seven Native American-run outlets doing business. Passage of the federal law known as IGRA in 1988 resulted in a relative boom in establishment of casinos on Native American reservation land in the 90s. By the mid-90s, five casino outlets were open in Idaho, many of them strategically placed near state borders.
State and local government legislators soon realized the potential of revenue earning thanks to (in the local parlance) “Indian casinos.” Today, all manner of lottery games and even electronic slots/video poker can be played at bars and other public locations.
Population: 1,683,140 (2016 est.)
Area: 83,642 sq. mi.
Gambling Age (Casinos): 18
Gambling Age (Lottery): 18
Number of Casinos: 7
• Idaho has more whitewater rapids – and thus more whitewater trip packages for tourists – than any other state.
• Idaho also leads the U.S. in geothermal hot springs, with at least 340..
• Like birds of prey? Annually, the Morley Nelson Snake River conservation area hosts the mating and breeding of a minimum 800 pairs of such birds. (Yeesh, but that’s just imo.)
• In Idaho, it is illegal to gift a box of candy that weighs more than 50 pounds.
When Idaho ratified its state constitution with admission to the Union in 1890, addressing gambling was a high priority. At that time, written into law was the rule that no “lottery or gift enterprise” would be allowed. Since then, the state has seen a gradual erosion of that original gambling law in Idaho.
Based solely on argumentation, however, slot machines snuck into Idaho by the mid 1940s. Since these games were not a lottery and paid out in cash, slot machines fit through the loophole and operated legally from 1947 to ‘53. Said loophole was closed in ’43, when the state legislature declared the machines simply as unconstitutional.
A state lottery in Idaho was finally introduced in 1988 after a citizen’s initiative group fought to a draw in court with state legislators in ’86. And of course the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 allowed the state’s tribes to open bingo halls. By 2002, these halls were to become full-on casinos with the addition of slots and video poker machines.
Only in 1993 would pari-mutuel betting on horse racing become legalized in Idaho, but once the dam had been opened … slot machines and instant-win horse racing machines had been approved for the state’s Sandy Downs and Pocatello Downs.
All seven Idaho casinos are run by Native American tribes and each is located in a different county, thereby more fully blanketed the state and providing entertainment to greater amounts of citizens.
The big five at present includes the Coeur d’Alene Casino in Worley; the Clearwater Casino in Lewiston; the aptly-named Fort Hall Casino in Fort Hall; the It’se Ye Ye Casino in Kamiah; and the Kootenai River Inn and Casino in Bonners Ferry. Largest of the lot is the Coeur d’Alene; founded in 1993, this casino has undergone seven expansions and today provides a big 100,000 square feet of gaming.
The new kids on the block among casinos in Idaho are the Sage Hill Casino in Blackfoot and the Bannock Peak Casino alongside the Pocatello Downs; both of these were opened in the mid-2010s.
Just as in neighboring Montana, one must be only 18 years old to play legally-approved gambling in whatever form one wishes. The drinking age is still 21, though, so you too-old/too-young types be aware.
Here’s a fun exercise if you feel like wasting a whole lot of time: Start with the Wikipedia page entitled “List of people from Idaho.” Now try and determine who the most famous person ever from Idaho – never mind most famous – is.
No, Ernest Hemingway doesn’t count: He freakin’ *died* in Ketchum, Idaho. And apparently the Wikipedia content editor or content writer or whoever was so desperate to fill out the page that he/she also included Nikki Sixx, who was certainly not born in Jerome, Idaho.
So who’s the most famous? Sacagawea? She was born and died long before Idaho was even a proper territory. Harmon Killebrew? Yeah, like anyone cares about baseball history anymore. Philo Farnsworth, who not one n 10,000 could easily identify?
So we’ll go with George Kennedy. Oh yeah, George was totally into gambling. He and Leslie Nielsen used to bust each other up with straight-faced joking at the blackjack table constantly, sometimes winning $100,00 a night. Definitely!
What? Isn’t this the age of alternate facts and fake news…? Come on, I’m trying to fill a word count here!.
Section 20 of the Idaho state constitution has been thoroughly amended and mangled since its initial passage in 1890. As of now, it reads, “Gambling is contrary to public policy and is strictly prohibited except for … a state lottery which is authorized by the state [;] and pari-mutuel betting if conducted in conformity with enabling legislation; and bingo and raffle games [for charity],” the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 allowed casino games to be played on reservation lands and further exception is made for the individually-owned machines dotting Idaho.
Well, one can’t imagine gambling law in Idaho to get much more liberalized than it is in the present. Gaming machines are pretty much freely available, the state’s two horse racing tracks cum casinos are doing decent business, expansion to the Native Americans’ casinos and casino resorts have been steady for nearly 25 years; and the people are still far ahead of the curve on politicos on this issue.
Full steam ahead then, for gambling in Idaho!