South Dakota Residents Could Have Their Say on Mobile Sports Betting

  • Seeking a public vote on mobile betting, SJR 502 has passed a Senate committee
  • Sports betting is currently only permitted in South Dakota at casinos in Deadwood
  • The proposal may face resistance, including from the SD Department of Revenue
  • Supporters believe South Dakota is missing out on revenue to neighboring states
Person putting a vote into a ballot box
A proposal in South Dakota is looking to have a public vote in an attempt to allow statewide online sports betting. [Image:]

Proposal gains momentum

South Dakota residents might get the chance to vote on whether or not they want to allow state-wide online sports betting. A Senate Commerce and Energy committee voted 6-5 to approve such a measure on Tuesday. It will now move onto the Senate floor.

the resolution would see online sportsbook servers set up in Deadwood

Senate Joint Resolution 502 (SJR 502) would allow a public vote on mobile betting in the November general election. If successful, the resolution would see online sportsbook servers set up in Deadwood to allow for statewide wagering. This would also require the creation of a regulatory framework.

Those in favor of such a move have concerns that the state is missing out on online betting revenue. Currently, sports betting is only permitted in the city of Deadwood. Retail sportsbooks are currently in operation at various casinos in the city.

Support and opposition

One lawmaker in favor of SJR 502 is Representative Will Mortenson. He argues that despite approving sports betting, the majority of state residents cannot access the market due to its restrictive nature. “We need to send this back to the voters and let people bet on the Super Bowl without being criminals,” he stated.

Sports Betting Alliance is also supporting SJR 502

A coalition of sportsbook operators and professional sports teams called Sports Betting Alliance is also supporting SJR 502. This group believes that the proposal would simply enact what most people believed would come into place when voting in favor sports betting almost 15 months ago.

SJR 502 proponents expect opposition to the proposal as it gathers momentum. Typical opponents to South Dakota online gambling expansion include the South Dakota Department of Revenue, Governor Kristi Noem’s office, as well as a variety of socially conservative political groups.

Underwhelming results

Legal sports betting in Deadwood has not proven particularly succesful since sportsbooks launched in September 2021. Total sports betting handle in December reached $675,312, with revenue amounting to just $10,306. This came from a total of five casinos with retail sportsbooks operational.

Those in favor of SJR 502 believe that the current restrictive nature of the sports betting market is hindering the state’s ability to cash in on the ever-growing betting industry. Neighboring states of Wyoming and Iowa have state-wide online sports betting up and running and have generated significant returns.

Last year, Iowa’s betting handle reached over $2bn. It’s likely that many South Dakotans have crossed state lines to place bets, particularly as the state’s biggest metropolitan city is just ten miles from the Iowa border.

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