South Dakota Bureaucrat Equates Sports Betting To Murder, Theft

Written By Pat Evans on February 25, 2022
South Dakota sports betting

Sports betting in South Dakota will remain restricted to retail sportsbooks in Deadwood for at least another year following a committee hearing that saw it equated to murder and theft.

On Friday, the SD House State Affairs Committee voted against SJR 502, 10-3, a ballot proposal to legalize mobile sports betting in South Dakota. Committee members said the issue should begin as a petition from voters. They also cited the one-vote margin the resolution received in the Senate.

South Dakota voters approved sports betting in Deadwood at the ballot in 2020, the legislature and regulators then limited the industry to retail sportsbooks in the city last year. Sports betting launched in September 2021.

Strong sports betting opposition in South Dakota

Department of Revenue Deputy Secretary David Wiest spoke against the resolution. Wiest said the expansion of gaming would be the largest in the state since the 1980s, if not ever. He added that national sportsbooks are behind the push simply looking for more money from South Dakota.

“It strikes me that people have been doing lots of stuff illegally, should we strike those laws too? How about theft? How about murder?” Wiest asked the committee.

Last month, Wiest testified in the Senate that a mobile amendment could “force the state to accept bets from other states and cities outside of the U.S.” That is not true, of course.

Wiest also noted Deadwood Gaming Association was not in attendance and that mobile sports betting would hurt the casinos. DGA Executive Director Mike Rodman told South Dakota Public Broadcasting the association could not come to a consensus on the issue.

The Department of Social Services also discussed the potential harmful effects to residents.

Desire to give voters choice in South Dakota

Main sponsors Rep. Will Mortenson and Sen. Kyle Schoenfish said the legislature should give voters a choice of expansion rather than leaving it up to chance.

A variety of other testimonies, including from GeoComply, DraftKings and FanDuel, came in support of giving voters the choice of having mobile sports betting.

Mobile boosts sports betting numbers

Bettors wagered $835,252 at Deadwood sportsbooks in January.

Wyoming sportsbooks took nearly $12.3 million in online bets during December 2021. Wyoming has approximately 580,000 residents, approximately 300,000 fewer than South Dakota.

Louisiana launched mobile sports betting at the end of January. In four days, the online sportsbooks took nearly as much in bets as retail sportsbooks did during the entire month.

South Dakota sports betting estimates

In support of the resolution, Dakota Gaming Group’s Garrett Gross made some calculations for what mobile sports betting could bring the state. Dakota Gaming runs the Betkota Sportsbook, which takes bets at the Midnight Star Casino in Deadwood.

Gross said using figures from an emerging market like Wyoming, South Dakota monthly handle could reach $17.4 million and contribute $94,000 in monthly state taxes.

Using a more established market like neighboring Iowa, Gross said South Dakota could reach $77 million in bets monthly, with the state taking $424,000 in taxes.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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