Divided Deadwood casinos decline to take stance on mobile sports betting expansion bill

Divided Deadwood casinos decline to take stance on mobile sports betting expansion bill

The Deadwood Gaming Association, a trade association representing the interests of South Dakota’s commercial casino industry, declined to testify on Monday on a legislative resolution seeking to allow South Dakotans to decide on a sports betting expansion across the state.

While stakeholders including the Sports Betting Alliance, a coalition of pro sports teams and betting operators, and the Flandreau Santee Sioux showed public support to the bill, the Gaming Association was the notable absentee during testimony at the Capitol: Deadwood casinos are deadlocked on the gaming expansion.

“We did not reach a consensus here in Deadwood on that bill,” said Executive Director Mike Rodman, according to South Dakota Public Broadcasting. “When Deadwood Gaming doesn’t have consensus, we don’t take a position.” According to Rodman, the industry is nearly split in half on the issue.

According to the Executive Director, some Deadwood operators see the current sports wagering arrangement as beneficial given it brings people to the city for sports gaming, which then engage in other activities within the location, such as playing cards, staying in a hotel room, or eating in restaurants.

But in contrast, others argue that, in order for Deadwood to compete with surrounding jurisdictions like Iowa, Wyoming, Colorado and soon-to-be Nebraska, statewide mobile wagering could make a difference, as long as it runs through Deadwood through a licensed gaming establishment.

Proponents of statewide mobile sports gaming argue that the additional revenues from statewide would “offset whatever revenues that they would be losing from less visits to Deadwood,” Rodman said. However, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on the proposal yet.

South Dakota senate

Senate Joint Resolution 502, which narrowly passed the Senate by a single vote on Monday, by an 18-17 vote, has now moved off the Senate floor and over to the House of Representatives, where it is set to face a series of hurdles: last year, the House turned down a similar bill to allow online gaming.

Resolution 502 seeks to put a constitutional amendment question on the November ballot, asking voters in the state whether they want to expand sports betting to anywhere in the Mount Rushmore State, to be carried through websites and mobile apps, as long as the products are routed through computer servers in Deadwood casinos.

The push to expand wagering comes two years after a constitutional amendment passed with 58% of the vote, allowing sports betting, but only in Deadwood. However, the measure could see opposition from Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who had previously said she “was not in favor of an expansion of gambling in the state of South Dakota.”

“Sports wagering is here and prevalent,” argued Sen. Kyle Schoenfish, R-Scotland, according to Associated Press on why the mobile betting bill is needed. “With this vote, we can have it in the safest, smartest manner that will give South Dakota the most benefit.”

Senate Joint Resolution 502 is facing competition from a second bill seeking to allow sports betting outside of Deadwood, but only via bars and other similar establishments that develop a business partnership with traditional Deadwood casinos.

“By having a kiosk in that location where those folks can walk into that location, spend their time, spend their money, watch the games on the TV, and place their bets through the kiosk to Deadwood, South Dakota,” said Sen. Jack Kolbeck, R-Sioux Falls. “That’s what I thought this was all going to be about.”

However, backers of Resolution 502 claim there’s room within the ballot measure to also incorporate kiosk betting at land-based locations across the state. Ultimately, voters would have the final say on what they want in regards to the proposed expansion, should it pass the House.