In the State of Idaho, gambling is prohibited unless it is a form of gambling specifically permitted by the State. This is pursuant to Section 20 of the Constitution of Idaho. Due to the fact that online gambling is not specifically permitted under the Constitution, it can be construed as being illegal.  

Aside from those forms of gambling specifically permitted by law, gambling is illegal pursuant to section 18-3802 of the Idaho Statutes:


(1) A person is guilty of gambling if he:

  • Participates in gambling; or
  • Knowingly permits any gambling to be played, conducted or dealt upon or in any real or personal property owned, rented, or under the control of the actor, whether in whole or in part.

(2)  Gambling is a misdemeanor.

With respect to the misdemeanor aspect, if no specific punishment is called for in the statutes, misdemeanors default to a maximum term of up to six months in jail, a maximum fine of up to $1,000, or both.  

Interestingly enough, the Idaho statutes do not seem to differentiate between operators and mere participants (i.e. players) when it comes to gambling. To wit, those engaged in bookmaking face the same misdemeanor charges that could theoretically be faced by those making the bets.  

Here is a very interesting news piece from 2013 regarding a bust at an illegal gambling operation in the state:

What makes this interesting is that both investigators and the Assistant City Attorney for Boise pointed out that they usually do not pursue any charges or make any arrests for illegal gambling, even though they know that it takes place within the city.  

Specifically, the applicable departments essentially stated that they had received complaints from businesses that neighbored the business in which the illegal gambling was taking place, and as a result, officials really had no choice but to take action. Aside from that, officials basically acknowledged that they know illegal gambling takes place elsewhere, and they choose to do nothing about it.  Furthermore, this was a repeat incident at the establishment and they had just received warnings for prior incidents, so they were quite taken aback when people started being arrested and rights read.

Even though Idaho statute makes no distinction between a player and an operator, mere players were only issued citations while operators were arrested.

In conclusion, I’m actually going to suggest that Idaho is lightly restricted when it comes to online gambling. While it is true that no form of gambling is legal aside from those allowed by the state, and while gambling could theoretically result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail, authorities in Idaho have basically directly said that as long as there is no complaints, they really don’t care to act on the laws.  

Theoretically, it would seem as though the charge (a Misdemeanor) would be pretty light for anyone who wants to operate an online casino as the law makes no distinction between players and operators. Even illegal bookmakers (as far as the state is concerned) are guilty of the same misdemeanor that mere players would be guilty of.  

For those reasons, including light punishment of illegal operators and the fact that Idaho police simply don’t care unless there is an actual complaint, I will classify Idaho as, ‘Light.’  While, ‘Little/None,’ was given consideration, one cannot ignore the fact that the law technically calls for penalties for mere players...even though they will probably never be enforced.



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