Life comes at you fast, especially for a sports betting bill in South Dakota.
The script flipped fast on the House bill that would have been placed on the calendar for the upcoming year. Things looked good for the measure when it was approved 33-32.
But five members of the House were missing, and the measure needed 36 votes to be placed on the calendar for discussion.
Then lawmakers passed a resolution “recognizing the deleterious effects of gambling and video lottery.” So essentially the bill saw a full 180 from what seemed like a favorable vote, if not passing, to being condemned.
If the bill had passed in 2019, sports betting would have likely started in 2020.
However, the push to legalize sports betting in South Dakota is likely over for the year. The only remaining lifeline is a second vote, and the chances of that are extremely low. Plus, the bill was defeated in the House State Affairs Committee a while back.
That said, there’s at least some interest. The bill was revived by Rep. Tim Johns, who represents Deadwood, home of South Dakota’s various casinos. In a move called “smoking it out,” a third of the chamber agreed to bring the bill before the entire House instead of letting it die in committee.
But the bills's failure in the full House ends the hope of sports betting in South Dakota for the next year. If legislators want to bring sports betting back, it will likely be in a different bill in the next legislative session.
So will South Dakota try again to legalize sports betting? South Dakota has a history with gambling, notably in Deadwood. But lawmakers might want to keep the gambling confined there.
Deadwood has roughly two dozen casinos within city limits, a throwback to western days of old. The days of cowboys and saloons are past, but gambling most definitely is alive in the present. The only competition for Deadwood are the handful of Native American casinos across the state.
Deadwood has an exception from the state which allows the city to operate their casinos, and it looks likely that will be all that Deadwood will be for the foreseeable future -- especially after the House resolution condemning gambling as a whole.
From there, it’ll be hard for any sports betting bill to pass through the House. Though the sports betting bill passed the state Senate, it did so by a narrow margin. The Senate might not give it another go if they think the bill would die in the House.
Of course, among the House members present, the bill did earn a majority of the votes. So though sports betting in South Dakota is dead for the year, that's an encouraging sign for proponents, even if it’s not the ideal situation.