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SJR 501: Sports Betting Amendment Passes First Committee Test

The South Dakota Legislature may have us vote on sports betting. Senator Bob Ewing (R-31/Spearfish), whose district includes Deadwood’s casinos, has proposed Senate Joint Resolution 501, which would add wagering on sports events to the gambling allowed within the city limits of Deadwood. (The amendment also strikes three instances of shall and replaces them with may, since they are negatives, and “may not” more strongly prohibits action by revoking permission, while “shall not” only says, “has a duty not to.”)

Senator Ewing testified before Senate Local Government Friday that sports betting is going on in South Dakota right now, that such betting is legal, and that is thus good reason to make it legal.

The Deadwood Gambling Association and the South Dakota County Commissioners Association gave committee testimony in favor of putting this measure to a statewide vote. The South Dakota License Beverage Dealers and Gaming Association testified against SJR 501, not because it opposes sports betting but apparently because they want sports betting to take place at kiosks its members could control and sell beer around rather than allowing South Dakotans to bet via phone apps from the comfort of their own homes. (Quick, run the Iowa Caucus disad on gambling by apps!) SJR 501 does not specify the technological means for conducting sports betting. Voters would only approve the general principle of sports betting; the Legislature would then have to come back in 2021 to decide the details… as is proper for constitutional amendments.

Unlike last year, Governor Kristi Noem sent no one to committee to oppose sports betting. Bob Mercer speculates that the Governor may be backing off this year to avoid further damaging her already remarkably low popularity. Mercer also suggests Noem is more open this year to any new revenue stream that might help strengthen the anemic revenues on which she has built her bare-bones budget.

Senate Local Government sent SJR 501 to the full Senate on a 5–2 vote. Senators Duhamel, Jensen, Schoenfish, and Youngberg joined sponsor Ewing in voting aye; Senators Cammack and Wismer voted against putting sports betting on the ballot.


  1. Donald Pay 2020-02-10 08:45

    I think office pools and wagers of a few dollars between friends are fine. I particularly approved of these when they were illegal. Breaking the law in a small way keeps deviance constrained. It’s like going 3 miles an hour over the speed limit. Big deal. Generally, I oppose legalized gambling, though, because it is a way for middlemen to profit off of what can be done with friends for free. It’s friends with benefits that I like. Making an industry out of deviance results in a profit-motive for it, and then it’s “Katie bar the door!”

    Las Vegas-style sports betting is just another way for middlemen to profit off someone with a problem. They don’t really want the $2 bet, you know. Cory’s post lists all the lobbying groups involved for and against the measure, each seeking a way for their industry to take a cut of what you can do with your friend or office pool all by yourselves now. You think they’d fight over a $2 wager. Hell, no, they wouldn’t. The booze industry wants to sell you their product while they make you place your much larger sports bet through them. How about this? You have to place your bet through a prostitute or drug dealer. Same goddam difference, just a different sin.

  2. Debbo 2020-02-10 15:59

    “sports betting is going on in South Dakota right now, that such betting is legal, and that is thus good reason to make it legal.”

    I’m sure they’ll make the same argument for weed. 🙄

  3. Porter Lansing 2020-02-10 22:05

    The South Dakota License Beverage Dealers and Gaming Association wants you to bet on the game from a kiosk so they can make you a drunk driver? Of course they do.
    *I’m in favor of “friends with benefits”, too. :0)

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