While sports betting in North Dakota is allowed on tribal land, lawmakers are discussing a path to expansion beyond the reservations.
The North Dakota House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill, HCR 3002, Monday that would allow voters to decide if ND sports betting can expand beyond tribal casinos. While the committee sent the bill to the House floor, it recommended against the legislation’s passage.
If the legislature passes the resolution, North Dakotans can cast their vote on the issue in the November 2024 general election. Should voters want sports betting in the state, lawmakers would then set the framework for North Dakota sports betting in 2025.
Standard arguments for ND sports betting
During the committee hearing, proponents said sports betting legalization would help maximize state tax revenue and help limit illegal activity at offshore sportsbooks.
The resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Greg Stemen, estimates sports betting revenue for the state can reach up to $3.6 million in its first year. Stemen also estimates there are 140,000 residents betting illegally.
“If it’s already happening, let’s regulate it, let’s provide oversight, let’s put consumer protections in place and allow legitimate American gaming entities to partner with the state, and so that the people who are doing it have some protections built in,” Stemen told the Bismarck Tribune.
Same story for opponents, too
Like the proponents, opponents of sports betting used familiar arguments against legalization.
The most prominent argument was that legalized gambling would increase gaming addiction in the state.
North Dakota sports betting history
The North Dakota legislature has tried to legalize sports betting in the past. Legislators first failed to legalize in 2019 and failed to pass a ballot measure for the 2022 election in 2021.
Tribal-state compacts allow for sports betting on tribal land. There are sportsbooks at three casinos in North Dakota:
- Dakota Magic Casino in Hankinson
- 4 Bears Casino and Lodge in New Town
- Sky Dancer Casino & Resort in Belcourt
In October 2022, the five tribes asked for exclusive rights for sports betting outside tribal land, but Gov. Doug Burgum did not agree to the deal. Burgum did allow the legal gambling age at tribal casinos to drop from 21 to 19.