Sports betting is legal in North Dakota. In September, North Dakota passed the Gaming Compact, making it the twenty-first state in the union with an outright gambling clause. In October, the state’strictest legal limit to online sports betting was struck down by a federal court judge, finding it constitutionally unfair. So, whether or not you can bet online right now.
The main controversy in play centers on the language in the Gaming Compact. Proponents argue that the provision granting exclusive jurisdiction over gaming to the state effectively strips away the free-market principles of gambling. Opponents fear that it will make it easier for gaming establishments to unfairly discriminate against certain groups of people, such as Native Americans and small local businesses. They fear it may even drive up real estate prices in northern North Dakota, especially around reservations and along shipping routes. Many North Dakota citizens are afraid that the compact could impede the growth of seasonal job opportunities.
Although no formal timeline has been set to legalize sports betting in North Dakota, many state lawmakers, such as Republican Sen. John Kitzler and Democratic Gov. Jack Dalryck, hopes to see gambling legalized throughout the state by 2021. In the mean time, they’ve put forth several different plans to increase oversight of the gaming industry, including a study that will require all licensed casinos to receive county approval before offering game. Lawmakers hope that the Compact may provide a venue for cities and counties to band together against gambling expansion. If the statewide legalization of gambling comes as a surprise, North Dakota residents should keep these key points in mind:
North Dakota is one of fifteen states that currently have laws allowing gambling. The three-body legislative body, called the House and Senate, are expected to finalize and enact a bill by the end of this legislative session. Although the house may not pass the bill before its special session, the speaker and other state leaders expect it to be signed into law by the end of the year. If the bill were to be passed by both chambers, it would become law immediately. This marks the first time that the state legislation has been able to incorporate a private sector in a public sector; the previous measure, the Compact for Improving State Funding for Fun and Professional Sports, failed to include any private sector funding source.
House and Senate leaders plan to schedule hearings on the sports betting bill throughout February. Should the bill pass, House and Senate leaders would then call for hearings within the same timeframe in the Spring. Speakers and members of the House and Senate will likely be questioned on the proposed bills. Questions on the subject of gambling regulation will be asked by constituents.
Should the bill become law, it’s expected that there would be no restriction on gambling, so long as a licensed bookie is participating in the service. Additionally, no restrictions would be placed on tribal gaming, so long as the tribe allows tribal members to place wagers on their games. The North Dakota State Employees Association, which represents all state employees, along with the National Federation of Betting, Casino and Sports Book Association are expected to oppose the bill. These groups have opposed past gambling legislation, like the current one in the state. However, they feel that the North Dakota State Employees Association can still work to stop new attempts by un-vetted companies to open gambling casinos in the state.
One concern that many have is the possibility that the North Dakota State Employees’ Association will have a hand in any disputes that arise from the implementation of these new online sports betting laws. Should an employee feel they have been unfairly discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, or because of their religious beliefs, they may seek damages in court. This could open the state up to a lawsuit from a large corporation, who feels it has been illegally discriminated against based on race, gender, or religion. Online gambling legislation often favors the interests of the larger, well-known gambling companies, allowing them to dictate which laws must be implemented. This means that any potential disputes over how the law is implemented could come from the state itself.
Those who are against the introduction of online gambling in the north Dakota state have other reasons for opposing the bill. Many feel that the creation of North Dakota websites to allow individuals to pull tabs on sports books was an invasion of privacy. They also worry about the possibility of bookie operators coming into the state and manipulating the lottery system. The controversy surrounding the new law still continues to rage.