South Dakota lawmakers pull the plug on electronic sports betting

(Source: MGN Graphics)
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 9:16 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (SDBA) -- Unless the gaming industry or others want to take it on, the South Dakota Legislature will not put a constitutional amendment on the ballot allowing electronic sports gambling. The House killed HJR 5006 Thursday on a 28 to 41 vote.

Proponents said South Dakota is losing gaming revenue to Iowa and black market bookies. They say letting sports bettors become “legitimate” would not just bring gaming out into the open but capture revenue for the state.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Greg Jamison from Sioux Falls, said the Grand Falls Casino, just across the state line in Iowa, is drawing money away from South Dakota.

“They put it in boxes and drag it to a bank and spend it on Iowans,” Jamison said.

Resolution opponent, Republican Rep. Scott Odenbach from Spearfish, replied, “Iowans are treating gambling addicts with those boxes of money.”

Other opponents said South Dakota has the country’s second or third-highest gambling addiction rate.

Republican Rep. John Mills from Brookings says male gamblers often run up debts between $55,000 and $90,000. He said women frequently incur debts from gaming of around $15,000. Mills added he was “ashamed of the state for its reliance on gambling.”

Jamison said it was better for the legislature to put a carefully crafted constitutional amendment on the ballot instead of letting the industry or others do it.

“This will prevent another Amendment A,” he said. That was the recreational marijuana amendment voters passed in 2020, but the S.D. Supreme Court struck it down because of how the resolution was written.

A citizen’s group initiated it.

Under the defeated resolution, only Deadwood casinos could have offered electronic sports wagering, and all servers for online gaming would also have to be in Deadwood.

The proceeds would have gone to historic preservation in Deadwood.