Mixed Results for North and South Dakota Gambling Bills

  • North Dakota House supports allowing a public vote on legalizing sports betting and online poker
  • Meanwhile, two bills seeking statewide retail and online sports betting in South Dakota failed
  • North Dakota House also rejected a couple of gambling-related bills in Tuesday's session
  • South Dakota's remaining SB 44 seeks to establish betting rules and regulations in Deadwood
transparent ballot box with votes on top of laptop keyboard
The House in North Dakota is in favor of allowing the public to vote on legalizing sports betting and online poker, while attempts to allow statewide sports wagering in South Dakota were cut short. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Yeas and nays in the Dakotas

The North Dakota House of Representatives voted in favor of allowing the public to vote on the legalization of sports betting and online poker in the state. Meanwhile, in South Dakota, a couple of bills that would allow for statewide sports betting did not get approval.

The North Dakota House green-lighted gambling ballot-related bills on Tuesday, with the proposals now going to the Senate. If they obtain the legislature’s go-ahead, a public vote on the issues could take place in November 2022.

a public vote on the issues could take place in November 2022

House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 3032 would allow the public to have the final say on sports betting legalization. It received approval in the House following a 70-24 vote. HCR 3012, which proposes allowing the public to vote on legalizing online poker, also got passage with a 54-40 vote in favor.

In South Dakota, a couple of bills that were attempting to push through a more expansive form of sports betting were not successful. Current legislation only permits sports betting activity to take place at casinos within the city limits of Deadwood. The legislature is in the process of deciding on the rules and regulations before launching legal sports betting in the state.

Ups and downs up north

While North Dakota has historically been a very conservative state, anti-gambling sentiment has been decreasing in recent years. Supporters of gambling expansion believe it would create revenue for the state and local charities.

The sponsors of the expansion measures did not provide any estimates of potential revenues. Governor Doug Burgum has already said he will not veto sports betting legalization going to a public vote.

In addition to HCR 3032 and HCR 3012, the House also advanced a number of accompanying bills on Tuesday. Aiming to create a five-person committee that would regulate sports betting, House Bill (HB) 1234 got passage after a 56-38 vote. HB 1389, which proposes a regulatory framework for online poker, also got House approval on Tuesday.

Representative Jim Kasper, who introduced HCR 3012, has been pushing for legal online poker since 2005. He believes the state could have earned upwards of $500m in tax revenue over the years, had the legislature approved online poker back then.

The Republican-controlled House did deny some gambling-related bills during the session. One of these was looking to permit the five Native American tribes in the state to negotiate a deal with the governor to start offering sports betting and online poker on tribal lands. The bill would have been contingent on the public voting in favor of legalizing online poker and sports betting. Another unsuccessful bill would have enabled North Dakota residents to place wagers on recorded horse races.

Statewide betting proposal goes south

After South Dakota residents voted in favor of legalizing sports betting in Deadwood last November, many lawmakers thought it would eventually lead to statewide sports betting.

However, it appears that the legislature is still looking to restrict sports betting to Deadwood. The House State Affairs Committee ended the chances of HB 1211 on Monday. The bill pushed for the statewide presence of sports betting terminals at locations holding a liquor license, with said terminals having a link to Deadwood sportsbooks. On Tuesday, the House Taxation Committee also rejected HB 1231, which sought to establish statewide legal online sports betting.

it appears that the legislature is still looking to restrict sports betting to Deadwood

The only other sports betting-related bill that is still active in the state is Senate Bill (SB) 44. The measure got a Senate referral on February 11 to the House State Affairs Committee, but no hearing date has been set to date. The bill lays out the framework for introducing legal sports betting to Deadwood but prohibits college sports betting.

The current legislative session in South Dakota ends March 26.

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