South Dakota Sports Betting Ballot Question: What You Should Know Before You Vote

Posted on October 29, 2020 - Last Updated on October 28, 2020

Three states, including South Dakota, will decide whether or not to allow sports betting this election.

None of the votes in Louisiana, Maryland or South Dakota will lead to sports betting launching in the near future, however. The votes in all three states are simple yes or no votes that will require further action from each legislature if sports betting is approved.

Here’s what we know about the vote to potentially approve sports betting in SD:

What is the South Dakota sports betting referendum question?

South Dakota’s referendum is a bit different that Maryland and Louisiana. South Dakota is proposing an amendment to the state’s constitution to add sports betting to the games allowed within Deadwood.

The state’s attorney general makes it clear that sports betting would be allowed outside of Deadwood, though:

“Under federal law, any gaming authorized by the Legislature to be offered in Deadwood would also be allowed at on-reservation tribal casinos upon amendments to current tribal gaming compacts.”

Tribal casinos can offer any gaming legal in the state where they operate. That means the state’s 11 Indian casinos could also offer sports betting.

When would legal sports betting in South Dakota be available?

Like Maryland and Louisiana, it could take South Dakota until the start of next NFL season to get sports betting off the ground.

The referendum didn’t have overwhelming support in one chamber. It passed by a single vote in the House this year after failing to pass the chamber in 2019.

That could mean a lot of back-and-forth between the two sides before agreeing on rules.

What are current legal betting options for South Dakotans?

Other than the southeastern portion of South Dakota, there aren’t many options to legally bet on sports.

Those in the Sioux Falls metro area can easily take part in legal sports betting in Iowa. Bryan Bennett, COO of Betfred USA which runs the sportsbook at the Great Falls casino, said a majority of the casino’s business comes from the 250,000 people in the Sioux Falls metro area.

Come January 1, 2021, those South Dakotans crossing the border won’t have to visit a casino to open a mobile account anymore either. That means anyone could register with any of its licensed sportsbooks remotely while within Iowa’s borders.

Sports betting is also coming to the bordering states of North Dakota and Wyoming in a limited capacity. Tribes in both states recently announced plans to launch sports betting at their casinos.

Would mobile sports betting be legalized?

The text of SJR 501 doesn’t specifically allow mobile sports betting. It also doesn’t specifically outlaw it.

The amended article of the state constitution, if passed, would read:

Further, it shall be lawful for the Legislature to authorize by law, roulette, keno, craps, wagering on sporting events, limited card games and slot machines within the city limits of Deadwood.

There’s definitely wiggle room for operators and lobbyists there. Both could argue that mobile sports bets would still be placed within the limits of Deadwood if the mobile betting servers are all located within Deadwood, for example.

What are the chances of the referendum passing?

Supporters of SJR 501 said the majority of South Dakotans wanted legal sports betting.

Neither Rep. Timothy Johns and Deadwood Gaming Association lobbyist Roger Tellinghuisen presented those polling statistics, though.

Gaming operators remain cautiously optimistic in its passage, Deadwood Gaming Association Executive Director Mike Rodman told a local Fox outlet earlier this month.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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