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While much attention has gone to potential and impending sports betting legislation involving large states like New York, Texas, Arizona, and Georgia making a splash, North Dakota has fallen under the radar of coverage receiving many headlines.
The Peace Garden State jumped back into the picture this week achieving some notice, however, bettors within the state might have to be truly patient before envisioning placing their first bet.
Recently in February, the North Dakota Legislative Assembly passed two sports betting bills in the House that were to put the decision in the hands of the Senate to potentially move forward to Governor Doug Burgum for consideration. HCR 3032 and HB 1234 received their first Senate hearing on Monday in the Joint Finance and Taxation Committee.
HCR 3032 places the subject of sports wagering legalization on the upcoming November 2022 ballot for North Dakota residents to decide if they would allow for a change in the Constitution for a majority vote. HB1234 allows for both the legal retail and mobile sports betting industry for North Dakota.
While the revised proposal moves through the North Dakota legislature, it appears like sports wagering won’t arrive until late in 2025 at the most optimistic date. That schedule is if an amended version of HB 1234 moves positively forward and voters within the state have the opportunity to legalize sports betting on the upcoming 2022 ballot.
Rep. James Kasper, sponsor of HB 1234 went before the Senate committee to introduce the bill and to suggest amendments he would personally like to make to the current draft which was already passed in the House. Those amendments would likely delay the process should they be included in the bill.
Among the several changes proposed by Kasper include prohibiting credit card used for mobile wagering along with eliminating the opportunity to bet on all North Dakota university teams.
The most significant request by Rep. Kasper potentially causing a legislative delay was requesting two years before sportsbook operators could conduct online wagering in North Dakota. The thought was to give retail-based sports wagering kiosks a better head start to better impact local businesses within the state. The result would make online wagering unavailable until perhaps 2025.
In its current form, the bill asks for a 16-month stall for mobile sportsbooks, however, local small business owners believe they need a longer period before online sports wagering gets started.
Kasper directly made these comments introducing HB 1234:
The DraftKings of the world, and the people who do mobile devices, they have absolutely no economic effect on our state other than taxes. There is no work, except maybe some advertising. The kiosks, there are kiosk owners, they have to contact business owners in parts of our state, they have to provide support if they need it. … If mobile and retail start at the same time, then the mobile will garner 80-90% of the market, because there is no overhead and no catch-up and no lag time. In order to provide an opportunity for local business development … this bill provides for 24 months for kiosks to get started.
In cooperative support and in an effort to use their experience to help North Dakota, DraftKings Sportsbook has voiced their opinion on the impending changes to the bill to help avoid any unnecessary delays.
DraftKings has gone on record saying that banning credit cards from online wagering is a bad policy and inhibits a player’s ability to bet on sporting events. They are much more opposed to the extended two-year wait allowing for retail sports wagering for retail kiosks in the state.
They also recommend against the ban on local college sports as another opportunity for bettors to continue participating in the illegal offshore market or possibly use other state wagering sources to find ways to wager on their favorite local teams.
No official date has been set for the next hearing in the Senate for bills HCR 3032 and HB 1234. The most optimistic forecast is first moving along toward getting the vote for legislation done this November. The North Dakota Legislative Assembly adjourns on April 28 when final decisions will be made regarding both proposals.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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