South Dakota Senate narrowly advances online sports gambling resolution
PIERRE, S.D. - By a vote of 18 to 17, the South Dakota State Senate has narrowly advanced SJR 502, which would put online sports gambling on the ballot.
In November of 2020, voters approved “Amendment B,” which legalized sports gambling in Deadwood city limits.
Now, the online proposal is one step closer to being on the general election ballot in 2022.
“Anyone in South Dakota right now can spend thousands of dollars building fantasy sports line-ups without breaking the law,” said State Sen. Kyle Schoenfish (R-Scotland), the resolution’s sponsor. “Fantasy sports apps have been up and running for years and those proceeds are not subject to South Dakota laws governing sports wagering.”
The resolution has squeaked by thus far on it’s legislative journey. Prior to passing the full Senate by a vote of one, the bill had also advanced out of the Senate Commerce and Energy committee by the same margin, on a 6 to 5 vote.
The path to South Dakota possibly becoming the 18th state to legalize online sports gambling only gets narrower from here, as the proposal is set to head to a more skeptical State House.
Opponents in the Senate argued that the resolution should be brought about by way of a citizen backed petition drive, not by a legislative resolution. Further, some argued that online sports gambling would not necessarily help South Dakota businesses the same way that in-person sports gambling would.
“The backers of this resolution have adequate resources to accomplish their goal,” said State Sen. Jim Bolin (R-Canton) in opposition to the proposal. “They are not small operators, but multi-million dollar gambling companies. They could easily kick start a campaign to get the needed signatures for a resolution by petition.”
The South Dakota Retailers Association testified in favor of the resolution when it appeared in committee. The Deadwood Gaming Association did not take a stance on the resolution when it was in committee, but a number of individual casinos from Deadwood did testify in favor of it.
With online sports gambling already legal to South Dakota’s immediate east and west with Iowa and Wyoming, proponents believe the concept would be an important way to keep revenue in the state, as opposed to having consumers travel outside of it to partake in the activity.
“We want people to have their burgers and beverages in Sioux Falls, not Iowa,” said Schoenfish. “Or in Beresford instead of Iowa, Vermillion or Yankton, not Sioux City. Rapid City, not Cheyenne, Wyoming. Let’s support the businesses in South Dakota, versus the off shore sports book companies that aren’t operating legally.”
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