Representatives reject S.D. internet sports bets

Capitol News Bureau
Elizabeth Warren

In this Nov. 18, 2019, photo, Sportsbook shift manager Stuart Norsell, right, assists a patron, left, in the sports betting area of Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I. Legalized sports betting’s rapid march across the U.S. could face some bigger tests in 2020. Less than two years after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling opened the door to sportsbooks outside Nevada, they have been legalized in states that are home to about one-third of the nation’s population. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A panel of state lawmakers has turned down a proposal that would have let people across South Dakota use the internet for legal betting on sporting events.

The House Taxation Committee voted 11-1 against HB 1231 that Representative Tom Pischke sponsored. It would have required all of the bets to go through servers at casinos in Deadwood.

But the bets could have been made from mobile devices, personal computers, businesses with licenses to sell liquor for on-site consumption, other locations that could accept advanced deposits, and Deadwood casinos, so long as they were within South Dakota.

South Dakota voters in the November election approved a constitutional amendment allowing the Legislature to establish sports wagering in Deadwood.

Garrett Gross from Dakota Gaming Group in Harrisburg testified via internet for the legislation that included a proposed bet limit of $10,000 or more. He said geofencing technology would have ensured the phone and computer bets came from within South Dakota’s boundaries.

Gross used Iowa’s legal sports-betting numbers to estimate that South Dakotans are wagering about $30 million per month whether through Iowa’s casinos or the black market.

“These wagers are not tracked, regulated or taxed,” he said. He added, “That number should be an eyeopener, because it was for me.”

Sports bettors in Sioux Falls or Aberdeen are likely to keep going elsewhere rather than make daily or weekly or monthly drives across hundreds of miles to bet in Deadwood, Gross argued.

David Wiest, deputy secretary for the state Department of Revenue, made many of the same arguments Tuesday that he had used Monday to defeat HB 1211 that would have allowed more than 1,150 liquor establishments across South Dakota to take sports wagers for Deadwood casinos.

Wiest said the department and the Deadwood Gaming Association instead support SB 44 that requires sports wagering to occur on the premises of Deadwood casinos. The Senate approved the legislation 32-2 on February 9. A House committee plans to hear it later this month.

Wiest said the constitution’s gambling exceptions for limited card games, slot machines, keno, roulette, craps and now sports wagering specifically refer to “within the city limits of Deadwood.”

“Technology doesn’t change the words of the constitution,” he said. The proponents of the internet-betting legislation want the Legislature to expand the exemption for sports wagering statewide without asking the voters on another constitutional amendment, according to Wiest. “That is something quite frankly none of us can do,” he said.

Pischke, Gross and Wiest were the only people who testified.

This is a developing story.

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