AG won’t say how Deadwood drinking measure might affect tribal casinos

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KELO Deadwood

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The state’s top law enforcement official this week released his official explanation of what could result if South Dakota voters let Deadwood bars serve drinks round the clock except on Christmas.

But his spokesman says state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg won’t discuss how casinos on Indian reservations in South Dakota might be affected.

Eight of nine tribal governments offer gambling on their reservations in South Dakota. The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires that tribes can, at a minimum, operate the same type of gambling that a state’s laws permit.

South Dakota law requires the state attorney general to issue an official explanation before petition carriers can circulate a ballot measure to registered voters for signatures.

Another state law sets the minimum number of valid signatures of registered voters needed to get on the statewide election ballot.

Ravnsborg — pronounced rowns-berg — released his official statement Wednesday.

“Currently, state law allows alcoholic beverages to be sold, served, and consumed on the premises of on-sale licensees only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Under this measure, the City of Deadwood is authorized to allow at any time of day the sale, service, and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises of certain on-sale licensees.

“State law also currently gives counties and municipalities the authority to prohibit or restrict alcoholic beverages from being sold, served, or consumed on Sundays, Christmas Day, and Memorial Day. The measure directly prohibits the Christmas Day sale, service, or consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises of the Deadwood on-sale licensees covered by the measure.

“If any other municipality obtains authority to have gaming under South Dakota law, the provisions of this measure would apply to that municipality as well. The measure does not affect state laws regulating the sale of alcoholic beverages by off-sale licensees.”

That final paragraph is what Ravnsborg’s spokesman, lawyer Tim Bormann, said the attorney general wouldn’t expound upon.

“In referencing your question below, we are not providing further comment on this measure, the explanation stands as the whole of the comment from the Attorney General’s office,” Bormann wrote in an email response to KELOLAND News.

The Flandreau tribal government operates a casino in Flandreau. The Sisseton Wahpeton government has casinos at the north edge of Watertown and Agency Village. The Yankton, Rosebud, Oglala, Standing Rock, Lower Brule and Crow Creek governments run casinos on their reservations.

The petition for an initiated measure such as the Deadwood change needs at least 16,691 valid signatures and must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. CT, November 4, 2019, for Secretary of State Steve Barnett to determine its validity for South Dakota’s 2020 general-election ballot.

Lawyer Roger Tellinghuisen of Rapid City is leading the effort to change the law. Now a lobbyist for the Deadwood Gaming Association, Tellinghuisen was attorney general in 1988 when South Dakota voters approved Deadwood gambling.

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