Proponents of Sports Betting Want Legislation in South Dakota

Home to almost a dozen casinos, Deadwood, South Dakota is a place where illegal sports betting is taking place. Proponents want in on potential revenues by seeing legislation considered in 2019.

Since May, when the United States Supreme Court removed a federal law banning sports betting, several states have legalized the activity and begun to reap the benefits of online as well as land-based services.

Gambling operators in Deadwood, South Dakota, along with owners of sports bars and the city’s gambling regulators, want to be able to  add sports betting to their list of offerings.

Those involved with the gambling industry recognize that sports betting is taking place in the region – in an illegal manner. Money is being spent on the activity, and the state is missing out on the potential revenues that sports betting can bring.

Pushing for sports betting

Proponents of sports betting are pushing for legislation to be considered in 2019. Deadwood is currently the only area in the state that allows legalized gaming. There are 22 casinos in operation in the region. Along with the Deadwood area, tribal casinos are allowed in the state.

With a proposed amendment, the state would change the gaming definition to include sports betting within the constitution. Deadwood’s casinos would be allowed to offer the activity along with tribal venues.

The proposal would bring a large portion of gambling tax revenue to Deadwood. Currently, the city receives $6.8m (€5.9m) in revenue every year. With the amendment, the city would be provided an allocation that would grow with inflation.

As other states have either launched sports betting or are considering legislation, allowing the activity in South Dakota would help the state remain competitive. The Deadwood Gaming Association has already begun looking at what needs to happen in order to see sports betting legalized in the state.

Deadwood Gaming Association executive director Mike Rodman said: “For Deadwood, legal sports betting creates additional opportunities, particularly as it relates to high-visibility contests like the Super Bowl, Sweet 16, Major League Baseball World Series and the college football playoffs.

“All of those could create excitement, additional marketing opportunities, and would bring people to town. We know the people in South Dakota like sports betting and would like to do it in a legal, safe and regulated manner.”

Moving forward

It has been estimated that Deadwood would be able to generate an additional $1m (€878,422.20) to $2m (€1.7m) annually with sports betting as far as tax revenues are concerned. The city already brings in around $100m (€87.8m) within the gaming market annually.

The idea has sparked interest among several stakeholders in the gaming industry, including Native American tribes. The Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe has stated it is monitoring legislative efforts for wagering on sporting events, with the tribal leaders having started discussions with the Deadwood Gaming Association as well as industry experts on legislation.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux operates the Royal River Casino and feel that sports betting would allow the tribe to diversify its gaming offerings for patrons and impact the overall experience of visitors in a positive way.

For the state to change the constitution to allow sports betting, it will take some time. The proposal for sports betting has been reviewed by the South Dakota attorney general’s office as well as the state’s legislative research council. In January, the legislature is set to be presented the proposal and the goal is to see the amendment placed on the 2020 ballot.

If for some reason the amendment is not approved for the ballot by the legislature, there is another option. Proponents can choose to try and obtain signatures of voters registered in the state to place the amendment on the ballot. The gathering process would have to see a minimum of 35,000 qualifying signatures obtained before the amendment would be placed on the ballot.

If the process runs smoothly, the earliest that sports betting could take place in South Dakota would be July 2021.