Lawmakers hold tight to requiring that sports wagers can occur only on Deadwood casino premises

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Deadwood

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A state lawmaker’s bid to allow sports wagers to be accepted at potentially hundreds of bars and restaurants across South Dakota on behalf of Deadwood casinos failed Monday.

Representative Mark Willadsen wanted the Legislature to let any establishment take bets if it had a state license to sell liquor for on-site consumption and also had a contract with a Deadwood casino and a kiosk where the bets would be made.

But a state Department of Revenue official argued against the plan, saying it would mean 1,150 businesses outside Deadwood could take wagers. Deputy Secretary David Wiest said South Dakota voters marked their ballots to allow sports wagering in Deadwood proper.

Wiest said the department instead backs SB 44. It requires bets occur on the premises of Deadwood casinos. The House State Affairs Committee voted 9-4 to kill Willadsen’s proposal, HB 1211.

South Dakota voters amended the state constitution on November 3 to allow the Legislature to establish a system for sports wagers to be made in the city of Deadwood.

“I think we’re going against what the public voted for when they voted for it,” Republican Representative Tim Goodwin of rural Rapid City said.

“If we want this statewide,” said Democratic Representative Oren Lesmeister of rural Parade, “we need to take it back to the voters.”

Wiest counted off the various types of gambling that voters have made legal in Deadwood since the first constitutional amendment passed in 1988.

“We believe that it is clear that the phrase quote ‘within the city limits of Deadwood’ unquote means that you must physically be in Deadwood to play limited card games, slot machines, roulette, keno or craps, or to place a wager on a sporting event,” he said.

Willadsen’s legislation would have applied to 901 municipal and 219 county bars, 29 convention centers and 37 full-service restaurants licensed for on-sale liquor, according to Wiest. “Here’s the deal,” Wiest said, “did we ever vote to permit over one thousand, one hundred and fifty on-sale bars to have sports betting all across South Dakota? That’s the question.”

Matt Krogman, a lobbyist for the South Dakota Licensed Beverage Dealer & Gaming Association, said those locations would accept bets, in exchange for a percentage or a fee, but wouldn’t pay out. He said most establishments that would be eligible to offer sports wagering already have video lottery.

“We believe this is a great win for Deadwood, a great win for South Dakota and a great win for our small businesses throughout the state,” Krogman said.

Willadsen’s proposal would have offered an alternative to an Iowa casino just over the border from Sioux Falls, as well as tribal casinos spread throughout reservations in South Dakota that also can now offer sports wagering.

“Now the key to this is, the casino in Deadwood is in control,” Willadsen said. “They make the bet. They have the option to say no, we’re not gonna make that bet.”

He added, “By using this technology, the bets are placed or rejected in Deadwood. We’re just using technology to get there.”

Wiest said he also would be in the House Taxation Committee on Tuesday to oppose HB 1231 that would allow anyone in South Dakota to place a sports wager over the internet to a Deadwood casino.

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