A bill to allow sports gambling in South Dakota has started its journey through the Legislature.
On Friday, a Senate committee approved the bill 5-2.
The bill seeks to put the issue on statewide ballots in November, said Roger Tellinghuisen, a lobbyist for the Deadwood Gaming Association.
“That’s the only thing that this bill will do,” Tellinghuisen said. “It won’t implement it. That will be up to the Legislature to do. You as the Legislature will decide, if the voters of South Dakota approve this amendment, how it will be implemented, where it will be implemented, and under what circumstances."
Deadwood has been a gambling destination since South Dakota voters legalized the activity there in 1988.
If voters approve sports gambling, the Legislature could limit it to Deadwood or make it available statewide. Options for statewide betting include mobile-phone apps and kiosks in places such as sports bars.
Matt Krogman, a lobbyist for the South Dakota Licensed Beverage Dealers and Gaming Association, testified against the bill. He said the association is “100 percent in favor” of legalizing sports gambling, but the association thinks the bill should specify that sports gambling would be allowed statewide. The current bill does not include that stipulation.
Krogman said the association’s members would like sports gambling to be centralized in Deadwood, with the opportunity for establishments that possess on-sale liquor licenses to offer sports gambling via kiosks statewide. The association does not support gaming through mobile-phone apps.
A similar bill failed to win legislative approval last year.
Sports gambling was illegal most places in the United States until a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which has allowed states nationwide to consider legalizing the activity.