Lawmakers Won’t Put Sports Betting On South Dakota’s 2020 Ballot

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Deadwood locator map gambling generic

People who want a statewide vote on letting Deadwood and tribal casinos offer sports betting in South Dakota will need to gather signatures in hope of putting the question on the 2020 election ballot.

That’s because a panel of state lawmakers decided Monday against the Legislature sending it to the ballot.

The House State Affairs Committee tied 5-5 on endorsing SJR 2. The committee then killed it on a 7-3 vote.

The measure had previously made it through the state Senate without a yes vote to spare, 18-14.

Several Deadwood Gaming Association leaders spoke in favor Monday. One was lobbyist Roger Tellinghuisen. He was state attorney general in 1988 when a constitutional amendment permitting Deadwood gambling first passed.

Tellinghuisen responded to the agruments against the resolution: “I think most of it can be summed up with one word, and that’s ‘speculation.'”

David Wiest, deputy secretary for the state Department of Revenue, said his opposition was “pretty fundamental.”

“One of the reasons is, it’s an expansion of gambling in South Dakota. Governor Noem has made it clear that she does not wish to have gambling expanded in South Dakota. And frankly the gaming market is probably saturated in our state,” Wiest said.

Another opponent was Ed Randazzo, lobbyist for Rapid City-based Heritage Family Alliance Action. He said sports betting could range from premiere events such as the World Series and the Stanley Cup,  to college basketball contests and high school games.

Tellinghuisen shook his head in disagreement as Randazzo delivered his remarks.

“It is an expansion of gambling,” Representative Steven Haugaard, a Sioux Falls Republican, said. “And you can say it’s only so many devices in the venue, but you’re asking for another form of gambling.”

Representative Michael Diedrich, a Rapid City Republican attorney whose past included work for Sodak Gaming, defended the measure.

“We keep losing track of what the issue is, is whether or not to put it on the ballot, and we’ve heard a lot, a lot of speculation, but we haven’t seen any real evidence of that. We’ve speculated that it probably would do this or that there’s statitistics that show suicide’s related to it. I haven’t seen that, that there’s statistics showing bankruptcies,” Diedrich said.

Sports-betting supporters have already filed paperwork with the South Dakota Secretary of State office but aren’t yet circulating petitions yet, according to Tellinghuisen.

They would need to gather at least 33,921 valid signatures from registered South Dakota voters and submit them to the secretary of state by 5 p.m. November 3 to make the 2020 ballot.

The ballot measure includes an inflation factor for the city of Deadwood to keep a greater share of proceeds. That provision was removed from the legislative resolution by its primary sponsor, Senator Bob Ewing, a Spearfish Republican. 

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