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South Dakota Governor Approves Sports Betting

Kristi Noem

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed Senate Bill 44 into law last week, paving the way for sports betting in the state. The law won’t officially go into effect until July 1, but casinos can begin making preparations to add a retail sportsbook.

Sports betting has been in the works for more tha a year in South Dakota, and the topic got a significant boost last November. Voters in the state overwhelmingly passed a sports betting resolution on the ballot, giving lawmakers enough support to get a bill passed and signed.

There is no official launch date yet, but the industry should launch at some point before the start of the 2021 NFL season. Betting on the NFL is extremely popular in the United States, so having industry infrastructure in place before the season starts will allow North Dakota to have a successful start.

All of the casino gambling in South Dakota takes place in the town of Deadwood, and this will be the site of retail sports betting as well. It is expected that there will be more than 20 properties that eventually offer sports betting to customers.

There are some notable restrictions to the South Dakota sports betting law pertaining to available betting markets. These restrictions are similar to laws in other states but could end up keeping South Dakota from reaching its full potential.

Despite there being some debate around sports betting in 2020, that was not the case this time around with lawmakers. The Senate set the tone by approving Senate Bill 44 by a 32-2 vote in February, and the House passed the legislation by a 58-8 vote in March.

The sports betting law prohibits betting on high school or minor league sports, along with restrictions on college events. College events featuring teams from South Dakota cannot be offered, and sportsbooks are not allowed to offer individual prop bets on college athletes.

No Mobile Betting Options

When sports betting does officially launch later this year, all of the betting must be done in-person at the Deadwood casinos. There was hope that online or mobile betting would be included in a final bill, but that was ultimately not the case.

Several online sports betting bills have already been proposed in 2021, but none of them were able to gain any significant traction. The lack of mobile betting will leave money on the table each month, but this form of betting could eventually be added at a later date.

With South Dakota failing to legalize online betting, North Dakota lawmakers are looking to take advantage. There have been bills proposed in that legislature that would legalize online sports betting and online poker.

North Dakota still has several steps to take before sports betting becomes a reality, and South Dakota could ultimately have online betting by that time. Deadwood casinos will get the first opportunity to offer sports betting, but there is hope to expand the industry throughout the Dakotas in the near future.

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