Reversing a vote they had taken earlier in the same day, lawmakers in North Dakota’s House voted a second time Jan. 20 to support a bill legalizing sports betting within the state.
The House voted 52-38 on a bill that legalizes sports betting in North Dakota, overriding a vote they had been taken earlier that initially saw the bill defeated 46-44, two votes short of the 48 needed to advance to the Senate. The unusual second vote was called when it was determined four House representatives had been absent for the first vote.
House Bill 1254 will now go before the state Senate sometime in the coming weeks following the legislature’s mid-session break. The Senate reconvenes on Feb. 27.
North Dakota is the latest to state propose legislation legalizing sports betting outside of Nevada following the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 last May. Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia have since passed laws in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision and now have sportsbooks operational within their boundaries.
The expansion of sports betting is expected to continue to flourish in 2019 with 30 states either close to passing legislation or moving toward doing so.
Sports betting is not the expansion of gaming measure North Dakota lawmakers will debate when they reconvene later this week. The House also passed a bill approving historic horse racing, a game where a player places bets on terminals that broadcast previously conducted horse races. Opponents say historic horse racing is more comparable to slot machines than traditional horse race betting.
South Dakota is also mulling whether to legalize sports betting, though the path for such legislation to pass and become law is facing greater opposition than what is ongoing with its neighbors to the north. Proponents of legalized sports betting in South Dakota see it as a way to boost commercial casinos -- and perhaps tourism -- in the Deadwood region.
But unlike North Dakota, where there is considerable support, many South Dakota lawmakers have spoken out against legalizing sports betting. Among those voicing concerns is recently-elected Gov. Kristi Noem, who doesn’t believe the projected revenue from legalized sports betting is high enough to offset the expenditures that will come with having to regulate the expansion of gaming.
Despite Noem’s objections, South Dakota lawmakers are working to pass a constitutional amendment proposal that would not require the governor’s signature and instead allow state voters to decide whether sports betting would be legalized within the state. But if the Senate and House were to pass such an amendment the earliest it would on the ballot is November 2020.
Minnesota is also debating whether to legalize sports betting. Last week, lawmakers introduced a bill that would allow the state’s Native American tribes to offer bets, though this bill faces resistance in the House due to it not including other gaming establishments. And any expansion of gaming in Minnesota would also need the approval of the state’s Native American nations. Recently, tribal leaders have been reluctant to support expansion of any kind.