First Sports Betting Bills Filed in North Dakota; Any Hope for 2019?

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Representative Jason Dockter (Rep-District 7) filed the first-ever sports betting bill in North Dakota within the last few days. Ultimately, Dockter wants to make it legal in North Dakota to bet on sports at restaurants, in bars, and convenience stores. A second bill has since been filed, essentially similar to the first.

Sports Betting in the United States

In May 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the 26-year-old federal law, Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), which banned sports betting outside of Nevada. This left the opportunity open to each state to set its own laws surrounding sports gambling.

So far, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have fully operational, legal sports betting. New York and Arkansas have legislation but no operating sportsbooks. Many other states are moving towards legalization but as of right now do not have any legislation supporting it.

Like North Dakota, South Dakota is also exploring how to best legalize sports betting within their borders. Both states hope to have this implemented sooner than later.

Sports Betting in North Dakota

As of right now, it’s illegal to bet on sports in North Dakota. Lawmakers introduced two different bills into the Legislative Assembly docket recently, making the state the latest to join a growing list of states considering sports betting.

House Bill 1254 and House Bill 1295 are fairly similar except HB1295 prohibits betting on amateur sporting events. Both stick to the current rules set by North Dakota’s gaming laws, which allows gaming only through tribal casinos or charitable organizations.

If either of the bills passes as currently written and is signed into law, ND could potentially take in its first sports bet later in 2019, but neither of the bills really address regulation and taxation issues, which means they would need further legislation that could take up to several months to finish.

There is also no mention within the bills of online or mobile betting, but Dockter told Prairie Public News that he wants to see eligible gambling operators work with third-party vendors to allow for legal online mobile apps and betting kiosks.

Another alternative to the two bills is if a constitutional amendment received enough votes in the 2020 ballot, which would expand gaming beyond just the tribal groups and charitable organizations. However, this would delay implementation until 2021, at the very earliest.

More Details about HB1254 and HB1295

HB1254 was introduced by Representatives Dockter and Howe as well as Senator Meyer. HB1254 would allow for betting on amateur sports as well as professional games.

HB1254 was introduced and given its first reading on January 3rd. It was referred to the Judicial Committee for further action.

HB1295 was introduced by Representatives Beadle, Blum, Grueneich, and McWilliams as well as Senators Patten and K. Roers. The verbiage is basically the same as HB1254; however, HB1295 would only allow for betting on professional sports.

HB1295 was introduced and given its first reading on January 3rd. It was referred to the Judiciary Committee for further action.

What’s Next for North Dakota?

The state legislature is going to have to decide if one of these bills best meets their sports betting desires. As of now, neither of them discuss online betting or mobile betting. These two options are huge revenue streams within the gambling industry.

A lack of legislation on these topics could pose future problems for the state. Furthermore, waiting for a constitutional amendment by the voters could set North Dakota back even further. This quandary might require a third bill to be drafted and submitted, which covers online gambling, mobile betting, and sports betting outside of just tribal casinos.

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...

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