Despite its small population, with just over three-quarters of a million residents, North Dakota counts enjoys a thriving gambling business.
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The existing gambling laws in North Dakota are wide-ranging and prohibit unlicensed gambling activity in the state. Some lawmakers interpret that the wording covers online gambling as well, for both online casinos and players. That view has prevented any online providers and any online betting is, in effect, prohibited.
Social casinos are completely legal, though, and available on the internet or as an app and feature all the popular casino games, including slots, blackjack, video poker and roulette. It is free to play. While you cannot win money playing games at social casinos, the sites like WinStar, LuckyLand and Chumba casino typically offer sweepstakes (games of chance) with prizes that can include real money jackpots.
Whether daily fantasy in North Dakota is legal or not depends on whether it is defined as a game of skill or a game of chance. The argument came to a head in 2016, when major companies DraftKings and FanDuel were taken to court. However, it was ruled to be a state issue, and several states concluded that daily fantasy was a game of skill and therefore legal.
North Dakota was among the states that did not introduce any new legislation one way or another. In 2015, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said, "If daily fantasy sports are a game of chance, it's not likely legal, and if it's a game of skill, then it would likely be legal."
Regardless of the legal debates, North Dakotans can play top DFS games without fear of repercussion.
Since the 2005 bill regarding online poker in North Dakota was defeated by a large majority, there has been no further discussion on regulating the online poker market. Like online casino gaming, it is not offered in North Dakota.
However, charitable organizations and the state's six tribal casinos are legally allowed to offer poker games on their property. While the casinos operate under a different set of rules, the charity poker games are very restrictive. Charitable organizations can only hold two poker events each year, and only three raises can be made in a round, with maximum single bets of just $1.
North Dakota is home to a solitary horse racing track that offers pari-mutuel betting on live horse races, and allows for bets to be placed out with the track. These events are irregular and fall under the state’s charity gambling laws.
In 2017, a bill was introduced in the Senate that would have allowed betting on historical horse racing and the construction of up to 10 racinos. However, it was defeated by lawmakers. Opponents held that an expansion of the sports betting industry would hurt the state’s popular charity gambling.
With the Supreme Court overturning a ban on sports gambling in 2018, North Dakota could change its laws to take bets. Legislators don't seem interested to take up legislation, and North Dakotans won't have any legal sports betting options at brick-and-mortar locations or online.
Lawmakers introduce a sports betting bill in the 2019 legislative session.
A House bill is introduced, proposing the construction of six nontribal casinos in North Dakota, as the state does not receive tax from the six casinos that operate on tribal land. The House Judiciary Committee recommended that it not pass, even after it had been amended.
Legislation is introduced by Sen. James Kasper to legalize online poker. The bill was heavily defeated in the Senate 44-3.
The constitution is amended to allow North Dakota to have a state lottery. However, the law was narrowly defined and did not include instant scratch cards.
The state government signs an agreement with the five major Native American tribes of North Dakota, allowing for the construction of casinos on tribal land. Further agreements were renegotiated in 1999 and much later, in 2013, by which time there were a total of six casinos throughout the state.
This law is further expanded, to allow charities to run poker tournaments. There are caveats, however: the prize pool is capped at $12,000, and the winner may not receive more than $2,500. The law also expands to allow for horse racing under the good causes act.
North Dakota breaks its blanket ban on games of chance. However, each event was individually licensed, targeting charities and fundraising organizations that could host one-off events.
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