Press "Enter" to skip to content

State Resists Expanding Sports Gambling Outside of Deadwood; Wyoming Making Five Times the Money with Online Betting

In this year’s Session, legislators have considered putting four constitutional amendments to a public vote in November: turning the Secretary of Agriculture into an elected post, defining fertilized eggs as human beings, increasing the maximum number of legislators from 110 to 120, and allowing online sports betting through Deadwood servers.

Evidently figuring we voters might make enough trouble voting for Medicaid expansion this fall, the Legislature has killed all four of its ballot measure proposals. The fourth killing happened today in House State Affairs, where the state Department of Revenue and the Jesus caucus beat back the gambling industry and secured a 10–3 vote against Senate Joint Resolution 502.

The Noem Administration sent Deputy Secretary of Revenue David Wiest to fight the influence of out-of-state money in South Dakota gambling. Wiest told House State Affairs that we don’t want “multibillion-dollar sports betting companies” like Bet MGM, FanDuel, and DraftKings—the latter of whom dispatched a lobbyist from Boston to support SJR 502—amending our constitution to cash in on South Dakotans’ sports bets. We want Deadwood to make all that money. (And here I thought that South Dakota stood for Freedom and Capitalism, not restrictions on the economic opportunity.)

Wiest also sorta-kinda said that current law-breaking sports bettors are like thieves and murderers:

Now, of course, the statement was, oh my gosh, people are doing this already, mr.Wiest, they’re doing this, and we just want to make it legal. Well, you know, it strikes me that people have been doing lots of stuff illegally. Do you want to go ahead and strike those laws, too? How about theft? How about theft? People steal all the time. How about murder? My first case as a young lawyer in Aberdeen as a law clerk was a murder case. Why don’t we just decriminalize everything? Well, that’s ridiculous [Dep. Sec. Rev. David Wiest, testimony to House State Affairs against SJR 502, 2022.02.25, transcribed from SDPB timestamp 51:01].

Wiest’s comparison isn’t as radically bad and bullying as Noem’s chief of staff Mark Miller’s likening of transgender South Dakotans to terrorists, so this Session is giving us a pretty good picture of the Noem Administration’s moral spectrum: lying for a Putin-praising traitor is good, being honest about your gender identity is evil, and betting on the Twins with your phone is in between.

I do appreciate the Noem Administration’s willingness to stand up against big corporations; I just wish that anti-corporate sentiment weren’t so rare and selective. And Wiest’s opposition to SJR 502 does make me wonder if he’s in the right job. You’d think the Deputy Secretary of Revenue would be all for a measure that brings in more revenue, and Wyoming’s online sports betting is generating 15 times the action and operator revenue and nearly five times the state taxes of South Dakota’s Deadwood-in-person-only sports gambling:

With sports betting limited to casinos in a remote resort town, betting has been minimal in South Dakota. Deadwood is approximately a five-hour drive from South Dakota’s most populous city, Sioux Falls, and a three-hour drive to the capital, Pierre.

The first four months of SD sports betting action:

  • September 2021: $443,365
  • October 2021: $815,037
  • November 2021: $717,775
  • December 2021: $675,312

The almost $2.7 million handle resulted in $254,582 in operator revenue and $22,912 in state taxes.

During those same four months, Wyoming, the least populated state in the US, recorded $40.3 million in bets through mobile-only sports betting. Wyoming collected $111,914 in taxes on $4.0 million in operator revenue [Pat Evans, “Mobile South Dakota Sports Betting Already on the Horizon?Legal Sports Report, 2022.02.03].

Last I checked, Wyoming still outlaws theft and murder. And they don’t outlaw South Dakotans crossing the border and placing their bets on Wyoming soil.

But no, we’re not going to endanger our Deadwood casinos’ small potatoes with competition from online gambling giants, not this election cycle. Wiest told the big-money backers of SJR 502 to go circulate a petition to put online sports gambling before the voters as an initiated amendment, and they sound likely to do that… but they’ll have to wait until this November to circulate an initiated amendment petition to put the matter before the voters in 2024.


  1. Mark Anderson 2022-02-25 20:13

    If your betting on the Twins Cory, you can’t make any money at all.

  2. Porter Lansing 2022-02-25 20:59

    I bet a buck or two every day, on sports. Except during Lent, when I give up all social media, political blogs, and gambling. But anyway, I’ll let you in on a secret the gambling sites (MGM, Caesars, Sports Illustrated, Draft Kings, Bet Rivers, Bet Fred and FoxBet) don’t tell the states that have allowed them in. Taxes are paid on net profits. These sportsbooks limit their profits by giving away free bets. The cost of the free bet is deducted from the gross. Free bets get customers enthused and habitualized thus increasing the worth of the sportsbook without having to claim a taxable profit.

  3. TimA 2022-02-25 22:05

    Porter—- Except in SD, who taxes all “free play” at the same 9% (less 10%) rate that gaming revenue is taxed at!

    So either way, the state takes their cut.

  4. Porter Lansing 2022-02-25 23:13

    TimA – With all respect, nobody knows what kind of taxation will happen, if betting is expanded to include out of state sportsbooks.

  5. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-26 00:12

    Expanding gambling is a bad idea. Gambling makes the rich, richer and the poor, poorer. It is a no win.

  6. Porter Lansing 2022-02-26 08:17

    America is about free will and the ability to make choices.
    Of course, self-discipline is a primary when any recreation is involved.
    Those without adequate self-discipline most often want to restrict those that have it.
    This recreational description I wrote about the majority of South Dakotans applies.
    “Deriving pleasure by denying yourself pleasure.”

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-26 08:25

    Giving away free bets to hook customers for future sales makes all sorts of sense. Giving away free bets to avoid taxes doesn’t seem like a wise business strategy: doesn’t the company lose a dollar in betting revenue for every dime it saves on taxes? Even with taxes, you make more money when you sell more stuff. Plus, you get better roads to your casinos and better state-subsidized broadband to your gambling website when you pay more taxes.

  8. Nix 2022-02-26 08:43

    If you think that Wyoming is laughing at us about Sports Betting generating
    15x Operator revenue and 5x our taxes,
    You should hear the laughter from Colorado, Montana, Michigan and Illinois
    generating Billions of dollar in revenue
    from Canabis.
    The Dopes in Pierre are clown show of

  9. Porter Lansing 2022-02-26 09:14

    @Cory – Giving away free bets to avoid taxes by casinos is insidious Machiavellian genius. i.e. The tax reduction is full and 75% of the free bets are not winners, thus no monetary loss.

  10. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-26 16:18

    I don’t care if people choose to gamble. I do care if my State Government exploits the addiction of its citizens to raise revenue. Not the role of government in a free society.

  11. Porter Lansing 2022-02-26 19:10

    @Arlo … Isn’t it hard to dance with that stick up ‘yer butt?

  12. John Dale 2022-02-28 12:13

    I don’t like gambling.

    It’s more addictive than Marijuana.

    And the state “making money” is not the spirit and intent of good government in my opinion.

    Card sharks be damned.

  13. Porter Lansing 2022-02-28 12:55

    Political Blogs are more addictive than gambling and marijuana combined.
    Don’t believe me?
    Try and stop reading DFP for seven weeks.
    Try and stop reading Facebook and Twitter and Instagram for seven weeks.
    Try and stop reading Dakota War College for …………. no, wait. That’s easy.

Comments are closed.