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Legislature Keeps a Deadwood Lid on Sports Betting

Nor will The Next Big Thing be sports betting, at least not outside of Deadwood. The Legislature this week has defeated two measures that would have expanded our newly constitutionalized sports betting beyond the borders of our historic Hills casino-town. We won’t get to bet from our phones through Deadwood servers:

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 [Bob Mercer, “Representatives Reject S.D. Internet Sports Bets,” KELO-TV, 2021.02.23].

And we won’t get to go to our local bars and send bets to Deadwood, because, darn it, words mean something:

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 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 [Mercer, 2021.02.23].

The establishment’s preferred regulation and taxation of sports betting strictly in Deadwood, Senate Bill 44, has moved with minor amendment and minimal opposition through the Senate and awaits the post-Crossover-Day attention of House State Affairs. If you plan to put money on the Vikings (or, more sensibly, whomever the Vikings are playing), you’ll need to drive to Deadwood… or Larchwood.


  1. Mark Anderson 2021-02-24

    So you can’t call someone nearby and have them bet for you? What about the famous Hot Springs to Deadwood connection?

  2. Donald Pay 2021-02-24

    Bingo to Mark Anderson. There will be local bookies. Someone is going to find a way to make money on this.

  3. Eljeffe 2021-02-24

    The local bookmakers I know claimed not to be bothered by the prospect of expanded on-site sports gambling in SD. The convenience factor in dealing with them won’t be beat. I can’t say how they’d feel about locally produced on-line gambling. It’s been almost a year since I’ve been in a bar to get their take on ….. anything.

    What I can tell you is that sports betting and bookmaking has been a tradition in SD for a long time. I know of three personally, all good gentleman I trust implicitly, all who’ve been at this game for DECADES and one of whom’s entire life’s earnings consists of nothing more than winnings and the 10% juice afforded the bookie for the privilege of his being there to take your bet. He does very well, thank you.

    All this is made possible, of course, because SD remains the only state in the Union where bookmaking is still considered a misdemeanor, thus, at least in the eyes of the law, unworthy of efforts to proactively shut it down. Efforts to change this have occurred over the years, most memorably when certain holier than thou Republicans introduced legislation to felonies the activity in the late 80’s. As any good business coalition would do, many of our states leading bookmakers pooled their resources (cash), hired a well connected lobbyist/fixer and “ta-da!” The veto pen was wielded. Twice. All on the promise of “no action on high school sports and no rough stuff.”

    “Never a problem” they replied. And, to my knowledge, it’s never been.

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