PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota voters shouldn’t be asked whether they want to allow sports wagers to be placed on mobile devices that route through Deadwood casinos, the state House of Representatives has decided.
House members on Thursday voted 41-28 against the Legislature putting the question on the ballot for the 2024 general election.
That doesn’t mean it won’t still happen. Supporters could gather at least 33,922 valid signatures from South Dakota-registered voters and would need to file those by November 5 of this year. Otherwise, lawmakers could take up the matter again in the 2024 session.
But as of Thursday afternoon, it became a dead issue on the third floor of the state Capitol.
Republican Rep. Greg Jamison was prime sponsor of HJR-5006. It called for amending the South Dakota Constitution to specifically allow mobile bets.
He said that would build on the 2020 change that voters approved allowing Deadwood gambling houses to offer sports wagering on their premises.
According to Jamison, that hasn’t turned out to be the goldmine that some expected, while bettors in the Sioux Falls area are heading to the Grand Falls casino just over the border in Iowa.
“They spend that money on people in Iowa,” he said about the money lost there by South Dakota bettors. “The point is, they are feeding on us, and I’d like to stop it.”
But Republican Rep. Scott Odenbach said lawmakers should vote against the proposal and let the supporters go the petition route. “We don’t need video lottery 2.0,” he said.
Republican Rep. Carl Perry also spoke against it. He said South Dakota already ranked near the top among states with the worst rates of gambling addiction. “I don’t want us to grow to number one,” Perry said. “Let’s quit bringing on new gambling devices.”
Republican Rep. John Mills said South Dakota now ranked second most-addicted, behind only Nevada. “I’m proud of our state on so many things, but I’m ashamed of our reliance on gambling,” he said.
Said Republican Rep. David Kull, based on his experience as a member of the Sioux Falls Police Department, “I think we already have a problem, and it’s going to continue.” As for the employees at the Grand Falls casino, he said many of them are from Brandon and Sioux Falls, and some of the money lost there returns to South Dakota’s economy through their paychecks.
House Speaker Hugh Bartels asked Jamison if was ready to quickly wrap up his closing remarks.
“You bet,” Jamison replied.