While it isn’t strictly legal, DraftKings and FanDuel both operate within the state, and Attorney General Marty Jackley has confirmed that players won’t be punished for partaking in South Dakota daily fantasy.
“Based upon the current state of uncertainty, including the ongoing debate on whether daily fantasy sports wagering is predominately a permissive game of skill or an unlawful game of chance, it will not be my intent to seek felony indictments here in South Dakota absent a clear directive from our state legislature,” he said.
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The scope of gambling in South Dakota is large compared with that in many other states, and bettors can indulge in a variety of ways.
Anyone age 18 or older can bet on the horses—either live at the track or via simulcast—while those who are at least 21 can gain access to the casino. Punishments for unregulated gambling are severe, however, and violators could face sizable fines and jail time.
There is an extensive collection of land-based casinos in South Dakota, most prominently in the former gold rush town of Deadwood and on Native American reservations. Here players can enjoy some of their favorite table games, such as blackjack, live poker and slots. But because of a few quirks in the law, roulette, video poker, craps, keno and other games remain off limits.
In addition to the commercial casino landscape, bars and clubs are allowed to host "small stakes" games, where the maximum bet is limited to $50 per turn.
Oddly, social gambling in the state is illegal, so it makes sense not to get caught playing in home-based poker tournaments. And, at this point in time, online gambling in South Dakota is strictly forbidden, and regulations governing internet betting have remained in place while other rules have been relaxed.
South Dakota has a strong history of gambling that dates all the way back to the state's gold rush days. Much of the legislation regarding the current wave of gambling regulations actually came from the 1980s, as shown in the following timeline.
Specific laws govern South Dakota online gambling, and these by and large confirm that internet betting is a no-no in the Mount Rushmore State.
Section 22-25A-1 defines gambling as "to directly or indirectly take, receive, or accept money or any valuable thing with the understanding or agreement that the money or valuable thing will be paid or delivered to a person if the payment or delivery is contingent upon the result of a race, contest, or game or upon the happening of an event not known to be certain."
From there, online casinos in South Dakota are prohibited by the wording of § 22-23A-7: "no person engaged in a gambling business may use the internet or an interactive computer service to bet or wager."
And following on from that, forming South Dakota online casinos is banned, too, as per § 22-23A-8: "no person may establish a location or site in this state from which to conduct a gambling business on or over the internet or an interactive computer service."
Given the overriding prohibition on online gambling, it will come as no surprise that playing online poker in South Dakota is outlawed.
Enthusiasts can enjoy a few hands at their nearest casino or at the bars and at venues hosting small stakes tournaments, but until there’s a change in the legislation, there is no scope for South Dakota online poker.
While their gamblers don't have carte blanche to bet on any sports in the state, there is freedom to wager on horses and greyhounds, and many advocates of South Dakota sports betting are hoping this will ultimately lead to a relaxed approach to other forms of sports betting, too.
For the time being, at least, the art of bookmaking is illegal under state law. For the most part, sports betting in South Dakota has a way to go before it becomes a reality, as seen during the 2019 legislative session.