Thanks A Lot, Idaho: How One State Is Ruining The Sports Betting Lincoln Highway

When Ohio legalizes, Idaho will be the only state standing in the way of a coast-to-coast sports betting drive
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As it turns out, I live on what used to be called the Lincoln Highway. You’ll be forgiven if you don’t know what the Lincoln Highway is, as, again, I legitimately live on it — like, directly on it, I pull out of my driveway and presto, there it is, Lincoln Highway — and I had no idea.

But yes: The Lincoln Highway was the nation’s first transcontinental road for cars, dedicated in 1913. It started in New York City at 42nd Street in Times Square, and from there ran through the heart of the nation, culminating in San Francisco.

Pretty cool, right? (Just nod. Anyway … )

Anyway, wouldn’t it also be cool if there were a Lincoln Highway of sorts for sports betting? After all, with the pace of legislation and legalization around the country, you’d think you could map a direct-enough route across the country, right? Where a sporting chap or chapette can safely and legally place wagers as they take their horseless carriage on their westward journey? Where purple mountains majesticize and …

Yeah, forget it, because you can’t. But it’s close. 

I blame Idaho.

Come on, Idaho!

See, the big issue is the bloc of Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. Those three states run north and south from Canada to Mexico — kind of like a poor man’s Washington, Oregon, and California — and none of them have legalized sports betting.

Utah and Idaho have zero legislation pending, but Arizona does, and might — might — get something done this year, although it has to happen by April 24. Legislation there made it through the House, but there is worry it’s going to stall in the Senate.

But if Arizona can break through that firewall, it creates a western swing through Nevada and up into Oregon. The problem, however, lies east: At minimum, Nebraska would have to come online, and, well … that doesn’t look likely, at least in the near-term. Maybe a vote by the people in 2022, but maybe not.

Moving north from Arizona is Utah, and as many observers have noted, “never” is the time when Utah will legalize sports betting. The state’s deep ties to the Mormon church pretty much make Utah a total non-starter.

Which brings us to Idaho, another state that has deep ties to the Mormon church and, as a predictable result, has no legislation planned.

Which is a real shame, because Idaho is completely screwing up my Lincoln (Lesniak?) Highway.

Map it out

Here it is: You can start right outside my Lincoln Highway front door in New Jersey, head into Pennsylvania, and … yeah, you hit the Ohio roadblock, but it’s clear as day the state is going to legalize sports betting, possibly as soon as this year. It’s happening, so we’re putting them on the map. (Let’s just plan our road trip for next summer, m’kay?) OK. So we’re through Ohio, and then it’s a straight shot through Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. From there, we pop through South Dakota, where retail sports betting has been legalized and should be up and running by Sept. 1. From there, it’s on to Montana, with Oregon in our sights except for … Idaho. 

Come on, Idaho

Idaho: The state that chased away daily fantasy sports in 2016 … the state that won’t allow historical horse racing … the state that — and this is nutballs — just dropped out of Powerball because some legislators were worried the Australian government would use Idaho lottery player money to fund anti-gun legislation (really) … yeah. No one is holding their breath waiting for Idaho to legalize sports betting.

And with that, so goes our straight shot across the nation. The Sports Betting Highway is, and remains, a dream. (By the way, for those scoring at home, get your TripTiks out: It would’ve been Interstate 195 in New Jersey, which more or less starts just outside Belmar and the Atlantic Ocean, to the New Jersey Turnpike to the Pennsylvania Turnpike to 95 South to 276 West to 76 West into Ohio, then pick up 80 West through Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. From there … well, there’s a lot going on in Iowa. You’ll be on County Road T19 for a spell, F Avenue for a few minutes, etc., and then you’ll hook up with I-29 North to get into South Dakota, where you’ll really want to start paying attention, especially when you’re making a U-turn on 202nd Street in the town of White, but you’ll eventually get back to grooving on I-83 North, which will take you to US-12 West into Montana, and then — yeah, a lot of back roads, but stick with me — you’ll end up on I-15 South into Idaho, which you’ll have to endure for about 300 miles before you reach the Oregon border and get back to betting.)

Your move, Arizona and Nebraska. If Idaho continues to sit on their potatoes (almost made it the whole piece without a potato reference, congrats to me), these two states are our only hope. It may not be a straight shot, but it would get us coast-to-coast. I’m ready to start building the road signs and preparing my top hat and breakable champagne bottles for a grand celebratory sendoff.

Photo by Shutterstock

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