Voters will have the opportunity to legalize South Dakota sports betting in November 2020, but only in a limited fashion.
The legislature passed a sports betting referendum bill in 2020 to ask voters if they want to amend the state constitution to authorize the legislature to allow sports wagering in Deadwood. It does not include mobile sports betting.
If voters approve, the legislature will have to come back next year and pass another bill with the details of sports betting.
Under federal law, any gaming authorized in Deadwood would also be allowed at on-reservation tribal casinos upon amendments to current tribal gaming compacts.
The future of South Dakota sports betting
In 1989, South Dakota legalized gambling in Deadwood to revive the historic mining town immortalized in the HBO show of the same name.
The South Dakota constitution authorizes the legislature to allow roulette, keno, craps, limited card games and slot machines in the 25 casinos located in Deadwood.
Since voters already approved gambling in Deadwood, it’s possible they will support sports betting being added to the list of offerings. The Deadwood Gaming Association indicated that polling shows a majority of people in the state favor sports betting.
However, Deadwood is far from Sioux Falls, the most populous city in the state. The 11 tribal casinos are more evenly spread throughout South Dakota.
With a directive from voters, lawmakers are likely to move quickly on sports betting in 2021. The 2021 legislative session goes until March 8.
At the earliest, legal sports betting arrive until the second half of 2021.
When will online sports betting launch in South Dakota?
Current efforts limit SD sports betting to brick-and-mortar properties in Deadwood, and thereby on tribal reservations as well.
That would put South Dakota at a disadvantage compared to neighboring states such as Iowa and Montana, where online wagering is legal.
Recent South Dakota sports betting news
Legal sports betting options in South Dakota
With the exception of horse racing, there are currently no legal sports betting options in South Dakota.
There are illegal offshore websites that offer wagering in South Dakota. They do not hold a license from any US jurisdiction to legally accept bets from residents. These websites long have operated in violation of federal law in America.
Without regulation from the state, these offshore betting apps can’t be counted on to pay out winnings and have been known to disappear with people’s money.
The only safe and regulated way to bet on sports in the US is with a licensed operator.
Most popular sports to bet on in South Dakota
South Dakota isn’t known for its sports. There are no major professional sports teams or collegiate programs in the state.
As in most of the US, the NFL is the most popular sports league to watch and bet on in South Dakota. The nearby Minnesota Vikings are the favorite team among South Dakota residents.
South Dakota also attracts a lot of tourists to Mount Rushmore and Deadwood who would bring their own allegiances into sportsbooks.
South Dakota and Daily Fantasy Sports
South Dakota doesn’t regulate daily fantasy sports but allows the industry to operate in a gray area.
In 2015, the South Dakota attorney general let it be known that he would not pursue any type of criminal action regarding DFS operators.
As a result, major daily fantasy sports sites such as DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo! daily fantasy and Fantasy Draft operate in South Dakota.
Is horse racing legal in South Dakota?
Yes, but the industry is floundering to the point that there have been no horse races in South Dakota for more than a year.
Horse racing has a small but long history in South Dakota with horse betting going on since the 1950s.
Fort Pierre and Aberdeen racetracks offered limited events up until 2019, when they did not run races due to a lack of funding, wet weather and other issues.
An off-track betting facility called Triple Crown Casino operates in North Sioux City, offering wagering on races happening throughout the US.
South Dakota sports betting timeline
The Senate tried again with a similar sports betting resolution in 2020, and this time it received a better reception in the House.
The effort to put SD sports betting at Deadwood casinos in front of voters began in 2019.
The ballot question introduced by a bipartisan group of state senators would have been part of a larger proposal.
A fiscal note by the state Legislative Research Council estimated that Deadwood sports betting revenue would amount to about $2 million annually with about $185,000 going to the state in taxes.
South Dakota sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in South Dakota?
No. Right now, there are no legal options for wagering in South Dakota. That could change in the future, as state legislators appear interested in legalizing betting.
Who would oversee sports betting in SD?
If voters approve of legalizing sports betting in South Dakota, the regulator would be decided in subsequent legislation in 2021.
Will mobile SD sports betting be allowed?
Not likely. Mobile wagering isn’t likely to be included in SD sports betting at first. The ballot question limits sports betting to Deadwood casinos.
Who will be able to bet on sports in South Dakota?
The legal gambling age in South Dakota is 21.
There are some sports betting websites that say they accept bets from the United States. Are those legal options?
No. There are currently no sportsbook operators that are licensed at the federal level, which means all US sportsbooks are licensed at the state level. Any website that suggests betting from anywhere in the US is allowed is a website that operators offshore. It is not legal for those sites to accept bets from US citizens and those sites offer no protection to those who bet on them.