South Dakota Revives Sports Betting Educational Effort Following Coronavirus Delays

Posted on: June 22, 2020, 09:58h. 

Last updated on: June 22, 2020, 03:01h.

South Dakota’s gaming industry is rejuvenating efforts to educate voters about sports betting following delays forced by the coronavirus pandemic.

South Dakota Revives Bet Education
The Deadwood Gaming Association is reviving sports betting education plans ahead of the November statewide vote. (Image: Pinterest)

Earlier this year, state legislators passed Senate Joint Resolution 501, which puts the matter of sports wagering to voters on the November ballot. If voters approve, the state’s tribal casinos and commercial gaming properties in Deadwood would be able to offer sports betting.

Previously, the Deadwood Gaming Association (DGA) was trying to inform residents about the benefits of legal, regulated sports betting. But those plans suffered setbacks because of COVID-19.

I think that most people would rather see that sports wagering happen in a safe, legal, regulated environment, than happening illegally,” said Mike Rodman of the DGA in an interview with KOTA TV. “And I think that’s going to be the tipping point for the voters of South Dakota.”

The Mount Rushmore State isn’t the only one to see sports betting efforts hampered by the coronavirus. Earlier this month, tribal operators in California launched a lawsuit in which they’re requesting more time to gather the required amount of petition signatures. If successful, that would place a sports wagering initiative on the November ballot. They argued that a shelter-in-place directive authorized by Gov. Gavin Newsom hindered the drive for signatures.

South Dakota didn’t implement a statewide shutdown on par with larger states. But commercial gaming venues in Deadwood closed in the wake of the virus, though they were among the first in the US to reopen, doing so in early May.

Favorable Outlook

This year, South Dakota politicians had a change of heart, because similar sports betting legislation was defeated in 2019.

History doesn’t always repeat. But when it comes to gaming expansion in the state, previous efforts have been successful, including the 1988 vote to permit casinos in Deadwood and the 2014 passage of allowing those venues to offer craps and roulette. DGA is asking voters to say “yes” to constitutional amendment “B.”

“The constitution currently authorizes the Legislature to allow certain types of gaming in the City of Deadwood: roulette, keno, craps, limited card games, and slot machines,” according to the association. “This constitutional amendment authorizes the Legislature to also include wagering on sporting events as a type of gaming allowed in Deadwood.”

Federal law dictates that Deadwood wagering offerings are also applicable on-reservation tribal casinos “upon amendments to the current tribal gaming compacts.”

A Growing Crowd

With a population of 884,659 and no professional or major Division I college teams, South Dakota isn’t a threat to steal sports wagering revenue from other legal states in its region. But it does want to keep some of those dollars now that neighboring Iowa is home to one of the fastest-growing sports betting markets in the US.

South Dakota is one of several states where voters will have a say on sports wagering come November. Others include Louisiana, Maryland, and Virginia. The fate of California’s effort will be known later this week. If the legislature there doesn’t vote on and pass a sports betting proposal by June 25, it won’t make it to the 2020 ballot and will be shelved until next year.

Currently, sports betting is permitted in 23 states, 18 of which are live and legal.