In an effort to keep up with some neighboring states, South Dakota lawmakers will again consider sports betting legislation this year after a similar effort was defeated in 2019.
Voters in the Mount Rushmore State would ultimately decide the fate of sports wagering there. But before the issue can make it onto the ballot, policymakers must amend the state constitution. A plan to do that worked its way through the South Dakota State Senate last year, but later stalled in the state House of Representatives.
If approved, the plan would allow casinos in Deadwood, South Dakota’s gaming center, to offer sports wagering. With 2020 being a presidential election year, and amid intensifying regional sports betting competition, some industry insiders in South Dakota believe the time is right for the state to reconsider the issue.
It’s very clear that people have the opportunity to legally bet on sports, they want to do that, and we just want to give our customers here in South Dakota that same opportunity,” said Mike Rodman, executive director of the Deadwood Gaming Association, in an interview with KOTA TV.
A request for comment to the association by Casino.org wasn’t responded to prior to publication of this article.
South Dakota borders six states – Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Of that group, only Iowa has operational sports betting, and while that state is one of the newer entrants to the US sports betting fray, data confirm that gamblers are embracing the concept in the Hawkeye State.
Further pressuring South Dakota is the fact that Montana will likely launch sports betting over the next several months, a move that could allow wagers to be placed at as many as 1,400 locations across the Big Sky State.
“The competition around us with Iowa starting in August — last month, in November, they did fifty-six million dollars worth of sports wagering,” said Rodman in the KOTA TV interview.
Minnesota, the most populous state bordering South Dakota, could take up the issue again this year after its legislature adjourned last May without considering a sports betting bill that was proposed in 2018.
Still A Long Road
Even if both houses of South Dakota’s legislature agree to a sports wagering amendment, the issue would then go before voters in November. Official polling data hasn’t been revealed, but anecdotal evidence suggests residents in the Mount Rushmore State aren’t overtly opposed to sports betting.
Assuming everything breaks the right way for South Dakota’s sports betting supporters, the issue would then go back to legislature in early 2021 so politicians could formulate rules and regulations. At the earliest, it’s expected the first legal sports wager would be placed in the state in July 2021.
Previous estimates indicate that if the state can get sports betting up and running by fiscal 2022, the endeavor would generate $2.05 million in revenue and almost $185,000 in taxes for South Dakota.