Idaho: Hold ‘Em Is Poker, Poker Is Banned

The Coeur d'Alene tribe lost a round when the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Texas Hold 'Em is poker and poker specifically is banned by the state constitution. The tribe tried to argue hold 'em is a game of skill which is exempt. Nice try, said the court.

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently ruled that the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel in Worley, Idaho may not offer Texas hold ’em. The court ruled the game is poker and poker specifically is prohibited by Idaho’s constitution.

The lawsuit dates back to March 2014 when Idaho officials discovered the Coeur d’Alene tribe planned to offer hold ’em at the casino as a way to compete with casinos and card rooms in Washington which are allowed to offer poker.

Coeur d’Alene officials argued hold ’em was a game of skill and such games are exempt under the state constitution, including hold ’em. However, the Idaho constitution explicitly states poker is a form of gambling that is not permitted in the state.

Under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the only way the tribe could offer poker would be through its state gambling compact which currently does not authorize the game. The compact only permits a lottery, parimutuel betting and other games that “may hereafter be authorized to be conducted in the state.”

The tribe’s current options are to request a re-hearing or appeal to the Supreme Court.