North Dakota Lawmakers Advance Sports Betting and Online Poker Legislation

This Tuesday, North Dakota lawmakers advanced legislation for sports betting and online gambling.

This is not the first attempt for gambling expansion in the state but this time the opposition is not so strong. According to gambling opponents, expanding the legal boundaries of gambling might lead to gambling addiction problems, while backers believe that the new gambling laws might bring more revenue for the state and for charitable institutions.

The powers to legalize sports betting in the state was granted to the voters with House Concurrent Resolution 3032, which was supported by many members on the House. Voters would be given the chance to decide on 2022 elections.

If voters decide to approve the practice, any particulars of the industry in North Dakota would be governed by House Bill 1234, which also advanced this week. A five-member commission, part of the North Dakota Attorney General’s office, would establish the regulation of sports gambling in the state.

North Dakota is following the lead of many other state, which after the Supreme Court decision from 2018, jumped on the opportunity to legalize the practice. However, there are many other states, which oppose the legalization and insist on keeping their strict gambling laws.

Reb Rick Becker, R-Bismarck said: “By allowing the people to vote on it, we put this to rest once and for all.”

The bill to legalize internet poker also advanced this week. According to House Concurrent Resolution 3012, in 2022 voters will decide the fate of online poker.

The resolution to legalize online poker was introduced by Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, who has unsuccessfully pushed the issue in the Legislature since 2005.

He said: “There’s thousands of people in the state of North Dakota who are playing online poker. It’s not regulated; it’s not taxed.” He cited a poker industry estimate that his 2005 legislation would have stacked up $500 million in annual taxes for the state.

The parameters of the industry would be governed by House Bill 1389, which also advanced in the House on Tuesday.

Legal Gambling on Tribal Lands

House Bill 1448 also advanced this week, authorizing five tribal nations to negotiate an agreement with the governor for the legalization of sports betting and online gambling on tribal lands, contingent on the approval of the statewide ballot measures next year.

The bill was highly supported by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, advocating for it to establish “a level playing field” between tribal and non-tribal citizens in North Dakota in the gambling industry.

Kasper spoke against the bill out of concern that the language of the bill could limit the legalization of online gaming to tribal lands and said the tribes would have the opportunity to legalize sports betting and online poker if the practices are approved by voters.

Source: “Sports betting and online poker could be on the North Dakota ballot in 2022”, Inforum, February 23, 2021

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