Constitutional Amendment B’s implications for South Dakota

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 7:19 AM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - In the November 3rd general election, South Dakotans will be asked to vote on three different questions. One of those questions will be whether or not to legalize sports betting in Deadwood.

However, the question remains, what would passing the amendment mean? How far reaching would sports gambling be in South Dakota?

The language in the amendment only clearly denotes that sports gambling would be made legal in Deadwood. If it were to pass, it would be up for discussion amongst lawmakers as to how and where that gambling could take place. Public input would be given on the matter.

“I expect we will have a lot of input from the gaming industry here in the state, they’ll be looking at other states and what they’ve done there, what has worked there, what hasn’t.” Said State Representative Tim Johns (R- Lawrence County). Johns represents Deadwood and co-sponsored the bill in the State House last legislative session.

The gaming industry is cautiously optimistic the amendment will pass. Should that happen, they haven’t ruled out making online sports gambling more accessible to South Dakotans. They say to do so, they would have to “geo-fence” the state in order to make sure gamblers were in South Dakota. It is not clear how a sports gambling app for South Dakota would be brought about.

“We think the legislature will look at that, because it is being successfully done in both Iowa and Colorado right now and that would give everyone in South Dakota that option to legally bet on sporting events.” said Mike Rodman, Deadwood Gaming Association Executive Director.

Rodman also chairs the “Yes on B” political committee. So far, six different casinos have given $120,000 to help advocate for the cause. There is no political committee posing a formal opposition to it. He says that by passing the amendment, South Dakota would be made able to stay competitive with what gambling is available to visitors.

“Deadwood is the exception for commercial gaming in the state, the only place for commercial gaming, so that makes the challenge.” Rodman said.

Should Amendment B pass, all nine South Dakota Native American reservations would also be entitled to host sports gambling in their casinos. Rodman said that he had heard from several representatives from the reservation’s casinos who were interested in the prospect of sports gambling there.

Supporters and opponents of the bill say it opens the door to sports gambling. The question is, whether you support that.

“If you take something relatively pure and innocent like sports, and you add the component of wagering, I think you create all sorts of potential ramifications there. I think it becomes less of competition and expertise and more of how can I manipulate some sort of outcome.” said State Representative Steve Haugaard (R-Madison).

Haugaard also raised concerns about the sort of implications that can come from a gambling addiction, which he cites 15,000 South Dakotans as suffering from. Further, he argues that the tax revenue from legal sports gambling would only be a small drop in the bucket, compared to the billion dollar enterprise that gambling is for the state of South Dakota.

Haugaard wrote the “con” statement for the measure, State Senator Bob Ewing (R-Lawrence County) wrote the “pro." Representative Johns and Representative Ewing both represent Deadwood.

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