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South Dakota Looks to be First to Legalize Sports Betting in 2021

South Dakota could soon launch retail sports betting, becoming the first in the United States to do so in 2021. Virginia has already launched online betting, but that state currently doesn’t have any retail options.

Last November, voters in South Dakota approved a sports betting resolution to allow casinos in Deadwood to offer sports betting on-site. All casino gambling is currently done in the small town, but sports betting should provide a substantial financial and economic boost to the region.

After the voters in the state made their decision, it was up to the lawmakers in South Dakota to pass a law to legalize sports betting officially. There was hope that a bill would include both in-person and online betting, but that won’t be the case at this time.

The South Dakota House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 44 by a 58-8-4 vote last week, and the bill now goes to Governor Kristi Noem’s desk for final signature. South Dakota would become the first state to have a governor sign a sports betting law in 2021.

No Mobile Betting on the table

Eliminating mobile betting from the final bill was a massive blow to sports bettors in the state, and it will also severely limit the potential revenue. Along with no mobile betting, betting on in-state college teams was also prohibited in SB 44.

The Dakota Gaming Group has been lobbying for the inclusion of mobile betting over the last few weeks, but that group ultimately fell short in its quest. That group argued that millions of dollars were already bet illegally online by South Dakota residents, and lawmakers should look to keep those funds in the state.

House Bill 1231 was introduced in February as a last-ditch effort by members of the House to include mobile betting when launching sports betting. That bill never even made it out of committee before it was shut down and ultimately removed.

North Dakota Sees an Opening

While the state of online sports betting in South Dakota appears dead at this time, North Dakota is looking to capitalize on the opportunity. North Dakota does not currently have any commercial casinos, allowing South Dakota to dominate the casino industry in that part of the country.

Recently, the North Dakota House of Representatives passed a pair of bills aiming to bring new revenue sources to the state. These bills focus on legalizing online sports betting and online poker in the state.

The final decision would be left up to the voters in the state, but there is hope that these resolutions will be placed on the ballot in November 2022. The North Dakota Senate will now take a closer look at each piece of legislation in hopes of getting something sent to the governor.

If North Dakota can launch online sports betting, there is a potential to steal some business from South Dakota. South Dakota might get the jump, but it could be North Dakota that becomes the most profitable.

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