South Dakota Sports Betting Legislation Stalls Over Online Wagering Issue

Contrary to recent headlines and news regarding momentum building toward sports wagering legalization for several US states, South Dakota has taken a recent backward turn in progress.

For several months, lawmakers in South Dakota have been pushing to allow sports wagering to be made online within the state. Their hopes have been stalled as a bill to approve online sports betting in SD has been shut down.

On Monday, a bill that would have allowed sports betting kiosks in South Dakota’s bars and restaurants failed Monday in the House State Affairs Committee. That specific bill, HB1211 would have allowed businesses with on-sale liquor licenses to have sports betting kiosks connected to a casino in Deadwood, SD.

In explaining its simplicity Rep. Mark Willadsen said to the Rapid City Journal:

You would set up the account, fund the account and be merrily on your way.

The proposal from Willadsen met resistance from the Deputy Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Revenue David Wiest. He argued the amendment would open wagering opportunities at all 1,186 alcohol-selling establishments outside of Deadwood. In the original November Referendum vote, it allowed sports betting inside Deadwood casino properties only.

Wiest commented in rebuttal:

We believe that it is clear that the phrase quote ‘within the city limits of Deadwood’ unquote means that you must physically be in Deadwood to play limited card games, slot machines, roulette, keno or craps, or to place a wager on a sporting event.

Wiest questioned the state voters’ intentions within the proposed HB 1211. That they did not accept allowing 901 municipal and 219 county bars, 29 convention centers plus 37 restaurants to accept wagers on sports.

Opinions Differ on Gaming Technology

Officially, the House Taxation Committee officially voted 11-1 against this bill. It was somewhat of a surprise and definite disappointment to South Dakota citizens who overwhelmingly voted to legalize sports wagering in November.

Many industry supporters were behind the new bill including Garrett Gross from Dakota Gaming Group in Harrisburg. He testified via the internet for the legislation that included a proposed bet limit of $10,000 or more. Gross said geofencing technology would have ensured the phone and computer bets came from within South Dakota’s boundaries.

The key issue lies in Wiest and others defeating the bill believing that sports wagering should be land-based only and only be defined in certain retail establishments.

Willadsen’s proposal would have created an alternative to an Iowa casino from Sioux Falls and tribal casinos in South Dakota. He believed that the casino in Deadwood is in control of the sports betting operation and the measure he proposed complies with the vote. Explaining the process, he said:

By using this technology, the bets are placed or rejected in Deadwood. We’re just using technology to get there.

The Debate Continues

This issue is likely to spark a lively debate in South Dakota considering the overwhelming numbers dedicated toward online wagering in several legislated US states for sports betting over the past several months.

In comparison to sports betting legislation in several other states including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Texas, and New York for online sports wagering, the issue in South Dakota seems stalled for now. However, as learned from other recent state sessions, that situation can quickly change.

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