Legal Idaho Poker

There is no mention of whether online poker is legal or illegal in Idaho state laws. Pari-mutuel betting is legal in Idaho, as is live horse and dog racing – a movement that started as far back as the 1960s. The lottery was first legalized in 1989, and charity bingo and raffles followed suit in 1993.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 gave Native American tribes the option to work out compacts with the states in which their reservations were located. In Idaho, the Coeur D’Alene and Kootenai tribes were the first to do so in 1993, with the Nez Perce and Shoshone-Bannock tribes following several years later. The casinos can offer bingo, slot machines, off-track betting, keno, and video poker and blackjack.

Latest Developments Regarding Online Poker in Idaho

There have been few concerted efforts to bring online poker to the attention of Idaho lawmakers, much less draft a bill for consideration in the legislature.

On the other hand, there have been efforts to bring poker to the Native American casinos. One case even went into the court system, as Coeur D’Alene insisted on the right to offer poker at its properties, arguing that poker was a game of skill and should be exempted from state laws prohibiting table games of chance. There was also a desire to compete for business that had been going across the state border to Washington, where card rooms are legal and offer poker. The tribe originally opened a poker room, and Idaho sued the tribe and took the issue to court, and a win for the state prompted the tribe to take it all the way to the US Court of Appeals, where it lost again in 2015.

Idaho was also in the news in 2017 when some lawmakers tried to remove video gaming machines from tribal casinos. Some members of the state legislators want to change the law to define video machines as illegal slot machines, thus removing one of the primary draws of customers to the casinos. The state’s attorney general argued against the move as it would bring on a complicated legal battle, but several lawmakers continue to try to change the law. Tribal leaders are fighting the move, and they have prevailed thus far due to their integral part of already-established gambling establishments.

Idaho Laws Pertinent to Online Poker

In the Idaho Statutes, Title 18 is entitled “Crimes and Punishments,” under which gambling is located. Chapter 38 is dedicated to gaming,

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.”

However, there are several things excluded from the definition:

  • “Bona fide contests of skill, speed, strength or endurance”
  • “Bona fide business transactions which are valid under the law of contracts”
  • “Games that award only additional play”
  • “Merchant promotional contests and drawing conducted incidentally to bona fide nongaming business operations if prizes are awarded without consideration being charged”
  • “Other acts or transactions now or hereafter expressly authorized by law.”

The statute goes on to note that a person will be guilty of gambling if he or she participates or knowingly permits gambling. However, gambling is a misdemeanor. Bookmaking is also a misdemeanor, limited to a maximum fine of $1,000 or six months in jail or both. Slot machines are illegal, though antique slot machines manufactured prior to 1950 are legal to possess.

Other than another section dedicated to bingo and lotteries, there is nothing more in the state statutes about gambling. What is there includes broad definitions, no defining qualities of games of chance versus skill, and no mention of online gaming whatsoever.

While Idaho is not keen on gambling outside of the methods that have been legalized, there seems to be no indication that law enforcement officials plan to attack social gambling incidences such as home poker games or online gambling. Players have never been prosecuted for online poker, nor are they likely to be. When Idaho law enforcement officials raided a home poker game full of senior citizens several years ago, the public backlash was so intense that the state lightened its stance on small-dollar social games. The state would likely face a similar backlash if it tried to arrest or prosecute online poker players. There is little likelihood that players are in any danger.

Disclaimer:  This is not written by an attorney and is not or should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney for help interpreting these laws as they pertain to any given situation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Question:  Can I access online poker sites from Idaho?

Answer:  Yes. There are no bans on internet poker sites, which would be near impossible to enforce even if they existed. This means there are several online poker operators willing to offer poker to residents of Idaho, complete with cash games and tournament options.

Question:  Can I use credit cards to deposit and withdraw?

Answer:  Most online poker sites do accept major credit cards like Visa and Mastercard for online poker deposits, though most of them do not allow them to be used for withdrawals. Checks are the most common form of withdrawing funds, though bitcoin is becoming more popular for all transactions due to its lack of fees and ease of use for those involved in the cryptocurrency world.

Question:  Are Idaho players allowed on PokerStars or 888poker?

Answer:  No. Sites like PokerStars, 888poker, and PartyPoker are currently only available to select players in the United States per their individual licensing agreements. These global sites have chosen the cautious approach to online poker offerings, while other sites that are licensed outside of the US can be more liberal with their ability to include more players. Sites like Bovada and Intertops offer poker to states like Idaho where other sites no longer operate.

Gaming Resources in Idaho