Currency: United States Dollar ($)
Time Zone: UTC-7
State Name Abbreviation: ID
Casinos with Poker
Idaho, a large but sparsely populated state in the Northwestern part of the US, does have legal gambling, only on Native American reservations. However, alas, it does not have any legal poker – you can only play slot machines and “video poker” in local casinos.
While in most places, poker tends to have less strict restrictions than other casino games due to the higher level of skill involved, in Idaho, the exact opposite is the case. They have 7 licenced land casinos within their state (the biggest one is the Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel in Fort Hall, ID), but none of them are allowed to offer poker games.
What’s worse, even social poker games are illegal, so the locals can’t even have a Texas-style rake-free system going. In February 2010, even a small stakes home game hosted by old age pensioners in Twin Falls, ID was raided by the police! While there was significant backlash about the incident, the state legislature didn’t completely back down. They did concede that it was a case of police overreach, but did not make social poker games legal. Instead, the local law enforcement now needs prosecutorial approval before conducting a raid.
Before Idaho became a state, all kinds of games of chance were prominently played in its territory. However, the new state’s constitution (written and ratified in 1889) declared a total prohibition on all gambling. It took over half a century for Idaho to legalize one exception to the gambling ban. It was slot machines, or as the legislation put it, “coin-operated amusement devices”. However, even that law was shot down as unconstitutional shortly after. Horse race betting was permanently legalized in 1963.
The first real change came in 1988, with the establishment of the state lottery after a referendum, then an amendment to the state constitution in 1992. Slot machines and video poker became legal in 2009 – only on tribal lands, however. Sadly, we’ll just have to wait and see how long it takes for poker to get the green light as well in the Gem State.
Famous Idahoan Poker Players
Kevin MacPhee was born in Coeur D’Alene, ID. He has $5.967 million in live tournament cashes, more than any other player from Idaho, according to the Hendon database. In March 2010, he took down the €5,300 EPT Germany Main Event in Berlin for €1 million. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.
Online, he plays under the screen names “ImaLuckSac” on PokerStars and “Wu_Wizard” on the now defunct poker site Full Tilt. He has over $7.750 million in online MTT winnings.
Dylan Linde, also born in Coeur D’Alene, has cashed for $4.954 million in live tournaments. His biggest score is $1.631 million, which he got for winning the $10,400 Main Event at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas in December 2018. He beat Milos Skrbic from Serbia heads-up for the title.
– Playing Live Poker in Idaho –
Live Poker Legislation in Idaho
We’ve covered some of this in our intro. Section 18-3801 et esq. covers general gambling in the Idaho Statutes; while section 54-2501 et esq. covers horse race betting per se.
Poker, along with other card and casino games, such as blackjack, baccarat, or roulette. is illegal, alas. Slot machines, horse race betting, lottery and video poker are legal. Licencing and regulation of those are under the purview of the Idaho State Lottery Commission.
Live Poker Venues in Idaho
As we wrote above multiple times, there are no legal cardrooms in the state of Idaho. However, neighboring Montana actually has more casinos than Nevada, where the gambling capital of the world, Las Vegas, is located – many of them have poker rooms.
Speaking of which, Idaho also borders the aforementioned Nevada, and also Oregon, where land based poker is also completely legal.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Idaho –
Online Poker in Idaho
In Idaho, the situation is very much akin to that in most other states when it comes to online gambling. There aren’t any specific laws on the books that regulate it, thus it is illegal by default due to federal laws such as the 1961 Wire Act or the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Currently, there isn’t any state legislation in planning that would change that for Idahoans.