North Dakota Sports Betting Bill Dies in Senate

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A view of a megaphone used by the North Dakota State Bison cheerleaders against the Duke Blue Devils. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images/AFP.

North Dakotans will not get the chance to vote on a sports betting bill. Senate lawmakers voted down the idea (16-30). The bill would have required the Legislature to approve sports betting in North Dakota, with the state licensing and regulating it.

The House of Representatives narrowly passed the plan (49-44) in January, but it couldn’t get past the state Senate. Amendments to the resolution proposed by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month would have enabled— but not required— the Legislature to authorize sports betting, and only for professional sports. The same changes were defeated in the House in January.

Sports Betting Bill Offered Protection 

Supporters hailed the bill as an effort to regulate and add supervision and consumer safeguards to sports betting,

Sen. Scott Meyer, R-Grand Forks, stated that the bill is not an expansion or authorization of sports betting, but rather an effort to protect consumers from what is already happening in North Dakota. According to American Gaming Association data provided by Stemen, up to 138,000 North Dakotans wager over $300 million per year, including $30 million in revenue to offshore betting books.

History of Sports Betting in North Dakota

The Peace Garden State has historically maintained strict gambling laws. Limited forms of gambling, such as charitable gaming, tribal gaming at Indian reservations, and a state lottery are permitted. However, there has been no formal regulatory framework for sports betting activities.

In the past, the North Dakota legislature attempted to allow sports betting. Legislators initially failed to legalize in 2019 and then again in 2021 when they failed to adopt a ballot issue for the 2022 election.

Where Is Sports Betting Permitted in North Dakota?

Tribal-state compacts permit sports betting on tribal lands. North Dakota has three casinos with sportsbooks: 

  • Sky Dancer Casino & Resort in Belcourt 
  • Dakota Magic Casino in Hankinson 
  • 4 Bears Casino and Lodge in New Town

The five tribes requested exclusive rights for sports betting outside tribal grounds in October 2022, but Gov. Doug Burgum refused. Burgum did, however, reduce the legal gambling age at tribal casinos from 21 to 19.

Future of Sports Betting in North Dakota

At this point, only Tribal casino betting is allowed in North Dakota.  In February, the Senate also defeated a bill proposing a sports betting task force to draft a plan for online sports betting and regulation, as well as any related legislation. So, the future of sports betting in North Dakota remains unclear. 

Recent conversations about legalizing sports betting have included college sports (along with pro sports), which means talks are ongoing, and lawmakers are trying to come up with a solution that works for all.  

Bookmakers Review will continue to follow the developments of any future sports betting legislation.