Last updated: June 1, 2020
Status: Sports betting is still a long way from being legalized in North Dakota following a vote in the state’s senate that resulted in a 38-7 majority against the bill.
ETA: The decision is a big setback for those who were hoping to see sports betting legalized in North Dakota in 2019. Realistically, it is unlikely that the matter will be taken any further in the current legislative session.
The North Dakota sports betting bill was advanced in February 2019, but only after it was initially rejected twice by the house, the second time by 46 votes to 44. After further reconsideration, another vote saw the bill pass by 52 votes to 38.
The state does not permit commercial betting activities and sports betting would have been controlled by the state's Native American gambling establishments. There were no provisions for online or mobile gambling included in the bill.
Gambling in North Dakota is not exactly widespread. The state has a small population, which is thinly spread across the region.
On-track and simulcast horse racing betting were introduced in 1987; however, the state only has one race track, the North Dakota Horse Park. There had been talks to introduced ten historical horse betting venues but the bill that was drafted was rejected. The main reason was the impact these commercial facilities would have had on the state’s charitable betting organisations.
The North Dakota Lottery was introduced in 2004 and sells fewer tickets per capita than any other state. There are no scratch cards offered and no state-backed tickets. Therefore, lottery players are limited to entering draws such as Mega Millions and Powerball.
Charity gaming is popular in the state, with around two dozen gambling facilities available. Fundraising groups that satisfy the legal criterion are permitted to organize games of chance where the proceeds are directed to the sponsored cause. Games offered include bingo, poker, and blackjack. For most games, the age limit is 21 or over with the exception of bingo which can be played by anyone over the age of 19. Those below the age of 19 can play bingo but must be accompanied by an adult.
Sports betting is not currently legal in North Dakota and is unlikely to be in the immediate future. Moves have been made to legalize such activities but the latest bill was voted down by the state senate.
At the moment, nobody controls sports betting in the state as it has yet to be legalized. If a bill is passed, control is likely to be handed to tribal casino operators and charitable gaming organisations.
In line with other casino games, an age limit of 21 or over is expected to be applied for all sports betting activities in North Dakota.
Currently, there is no way to bet legally bet on sports in the state.
Until legislation is passed, no betting licences will be issued by the state. There is no clear indication of how long this will take.
The lack of current legislation means there are no operators offering legal sports betting in North Dakota.
The recently rejected sports betting bill did not include any provision for online or mobile gaming. North Dakota has a tradition for strict gambling laws so the chances of mobile gaming being featured in future bills look slim.
With such a small population and a relatively small appetite for gambling compared to other states, it is hard to calculate how well sports betting would be received in North Dakota and how much money would be generated. With commercial casinos prohibited, the majority of all revenue would go to charitable causes.
The latest bill called for a tax rate of 2.5% of all gross proceeds exceeding $1.5 million a quarter. This is in contrast to most other states, who just tax the revenue on sports wagers at a low rate. The proposal would equate to a tax rate of around 50% on all profits.
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