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Fans seated in the Mirage Hotel and Casino Race and Sports Book in 2013 in Las Vegas follow game action on televisions, while in the background, the brightly colored displays on the electronic blackboards keep track of the odds on dozens of games. Sports books in Nevada draw large crowds of bettors who stay around to watch the games and follow their bets. Sports books are not allowed in South Dakota.

With the 2018 election in the rear-view mirror, the 2020 election and its potential ballot measures loom on the horizon, including an effort to legalize sports gambling in Deadwood.

But it's a safe wager that any legalization of sports betting in South Dakota will have to wait until at least the summer of 2021.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states could legalize sports betting. Five states have rushed to join Nevada to legalize it. But the South Dakota process, which requires a constitutional amendment, will move more slowly.  

"Unfortunately, with the timing with the Supreme Court ruling it was too late to get it into this recent election," said Mike Rodman, executive director of the Deadwood Gaming Association.

On Oct. 23, an initiated constitutional measure to authorize the Legislature to legalize sports gambling in Deadwood was submitted to the Secretary of State's Office.

Rodman's group will now submit revised language — for example, using "wagering on sporting events" rather than "sports bets" — to the attorney general, who will give the initiated measure a title and explanation. Pending approval by the Secretary of State's office, the measure can be circulated for signatures equal to 10 percent of the most recent gubernatorial election to get on the November 2020 ballot. All petitions are due by Nov. 4, 2019.

"The voters would have to change the Constitution, then the Legislature would need to say, 'we will implement this, and here's how we'll tax it.' And the Legislature will give some state agency the authority to promulgate rules to regulate these games," said Larry Eliason, executive secretary of the South Dakota Gaming Commission.

An increasingly popular form of sports betting in Nevada requires participants using a mobile app to physically be in Nevada.

"If you're at a beach house on Lake Tahoe, and you place a bet at Caesar's Palace, you better be on the Nevada side," Eliason said. 

Similar geographic restrictions could be imposed by the South Dakota Legislature, Eliason said. The Legislature, for example, could limit bets to individuals physically in Deadwood city limits. Other restrictions could apply, such as a cap of $1,000 on maximum bets. 

In 2014, the state's voters approved writing into the Constitution the authorization to legalize craps, keno and roulette in Deadwood. Subsequently, the Legislature passed a law and that tasked the South Dakota Gaming Commission with publicizing rules around the games. The same process would apply to sports betting, Eliason said.

Gaming in Deadwood has been flat for years, Rodman said, and sports betting would be a modest boost. 

"It's not a big money-maker," he said. "But it gives us some great marketing opportunities for the Super Bowl and March Madness."

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Contact Christopher Vondracek at Christopher.Vondracek@rapidcityjournal.com.

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