Idaho Casinos and Gambling
Casino Gambling in Idaho
Although Idaho is not usually thought of as a gambling state, it is home to several tribal operated casinos, a number of horse racing facilities and off track betting (OTB). The casinos are located on tribal lands but still must adhere to the compact agreed to with the state for operation of gambling establishments. That means that you will only find class 2 gaming machines and none of the traditional table games that many have come to expect at a casino. With the legal age of gambling only 18, this means that there is no alcohol served in the casinos. Casinos are allowed to be open around the clock in Idaho so you can find some excitement no matter what time it might be.
Bingo is one of the most popular forms of gambling in Idaho, with more than twenty bingo halls including those run by non-profit organizations like the American Legion and the Elks. Most of the casinos include a bingo hall, as well. The six tribal casinos found in Idaho do offer a good selection of video gaming machines and the popular electronic pull-tab machines. In Idaho, these games do not pay out in cash. Instead, the machines print out a receipt that must be exchanged at the cashier’s cage or through a floor attendant.
Some of the casinos do offer the electronic versions of some of the most popular table games. As technology has advanced, these simulations do provide much of the excitement of the real thing although purists disagree.
While gambling is generally illegal outside of the limited versions allowed on tribal lands, Idaho does have a lot to offer in other forms of gambling. There are a wide variety of lottery games offered in the state. There are also many horse tracks as the ponies are a popular past-time in Idaho as is sports betting.
History of Gaming in Idaho
In the early part of the 20th century, Idaho began cracking down on gambling in a strong manner. Many laws were passed outlawing various forms of gaming and by the 1950s, Idaho didn’t have a gaming presence in the state. In fact, due to the stringent laws, one of the most famous American casinos left to build a casino scarcely a mile over the state border in Jackpot, Nevada. This was, of course, Cactus Pete’s which is owned by Ameristar and is still in operation there.
Idaho began allowing limited forms of gambling back into the state in the 1980s. Starting with the lotteries, eventually horse and sports betting were legalized, although highly regulated. In the mid to late 1990s, the various Indian tribes began to sign compacts with the state allowing them to open limited casinos on tribal lands.
Types of Gaming and Other Entertainment
The most popular form of gambling in Idaho remains horse racing. With seven tracks located across the state, there are many options for “playing the ponies”. There is a variety of off track betting options so those who enjoy betting on races will have no difficulty in doing so.
The strict regulations in Idaho do not allow for table games such as blackjack, craps or roulette. Poker is also not a game that is legal in the state so you won’t find anyplace to play. Technically, even poker games played in private homes are illegal in Idaho.
Bingo is a game that is allowed under Idaho regulation and it is a game that is almost as popular as horse racing is in the state. Most of the casinos offer a bingo hall on site and it is a chief fundraising activity for many charitable organizations. Bingo lovers won’t have any difficulty in finding bingo games to participate in.
As said above, the casinos feature gaming machines, as table games are not allowed through any of the tribal compacts with the state. Some of the casinos do offer some electronic versions of table games but the main attraction remains slot machines.
The Idaho State Racing Commission oversees and regulates horse racing for the state. The Commission is rather unusual in that it is a division of the state police, rather than a completely separate agency. Bingo and lotteries come under the purveyance of the Idaho Lottery Enforcement Division while the casinos are not regulated by the state, except as to the details of the tribal-state compacts.
The Casinos and Poker Rooms of Idaho
Bannock Peak Casino – Open around the clock, this casino in Fort Hall, Idaho, is owned and operated on tribal lands by the Shoshone-Bannock Indian Tribe. They offer 65 gaming machines.
Clearwater River Casino – Also open 24 hours a day, the Clearwater River Casino is owned and operated by the Nez Perce Indian Tribe. While their large bingo hall is the main attraction at the facility, there is also a variety of gaming machines. There is an eatery on-site as well as an adjacent RV campground.
Coeur d’Alene Casino – Open round the clock in Worley, Idaho, the Coeur d’Alene Casino is the largest gambling establishment in the state. They offer a full hotel complex including four choices for dining, a lounge and an award-winning 18-hole golf course.
Coeur d’Alene Casino have it all, apparently
Fort Hall Casino – This second Fort Hall, Idaho casino is also owned and operated by the Shoshone-Bannock Indian Tribe. Here they feature a high stakes bingo parlor and many electronic pull-tab machines. While there, visitors can also find a tribal museum right near the casino.
It’se-Ye-Ye Casino – The second facility in the state from the Nez Perce Tribe, the name of the casino means coyote in the native language. Unlike most of the casinos in Idaho, this one is not open round the clock except for the weekends. They offer a wide assortment of gaming machines and a full cafe on the premises.
Kootenai River Casino –This casino, run by the Kootenai Indian Tribe, is located with the beautiful Kootenai River Inn at Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The complex has gaming machines and bingo for the gamblers as well as lovely amenities at the inn including a spa, restaurant and lounge. Due to the location so close to the Canadian border, the casino offers a special section of the casino to Canadian visitors where the machines only take Canadian money.
Online Casino Bingo Poker Sports Betting in Idaho
There are many options available to Idaho residents who wish to play online. Because these are offshore casinos you need to be careful and only choose reputable, established casinos and betting sites to avoid falling for cowboy casino scams.
As poker is so tightly outlawed in Idaho you will certainly want to be looking online for a game. The most US friendly online poker sites with established reputations and first class security are featured on our US poker rooms pages.
With bingo so popular in the state it’s not hard to find a game but if you prefer to play indoors there are a large selection of bingo halls that accept US players, many of whom offer free no deposit bonuses to new players.
Similarly with sports betting and especially horse racing such an integral part of the gaming scene in Idaho your offline options actually outweigh your online ones but if you can’t get to the track the are safe secure online options to place your bets. The best choice is summarised in our US sports betting pages.
Online casinos in Idaho are based offshore and there are plenty available to choose from. However it is best to stick to trusted casinos that have been serving US players for a long time and are internationally accredited. The best ones are featured in our USA casinos section.