North Dakota voters may soon be asked to decide if gambling on college and professional sports should be allowed or not, as a resolution is pending in the legislature.
Residents of North Dakota May Soon Decide if They Will Allow Sports Betting
The resolution, which gained wide bipartisan support, was proposed by Rep. Michael Howe. It came after a pair of bills that aimed to allow sports betting in the state were defeated two years ago in North Dakota’s then Republican-led legislature. Howe said that the bills didn’t pass because they were poorly written.
In February 2019, opponents to legalizing sports betting argued that the activity could have an impact on athletes’ performance. It could cause gambling addiction at a time when there is no money to treat such issues. Howe argued that the money from the revenue would go for charitable causes, including gambling addiction. He also said that people are already betting on sports illegally.
Voters in North Dakota Can Bypass Legislature
As the resolution is now pending, the legislature would still have to endorse it with a vote. North Dakota residents have a constitutional right to bypass the legislature and put the constitutional amendment on the ballot. They can put the resolution to a vote themselves. According to Howe, the measure could be on the ballot as early as next year. If it passes, lawmakers can introduce the rules and regulations necessary to regulate sports betting by the next session.
North Dakota’s Conservative View towards Gambling in the Past
The times are changing fast. Today over 20 states in the U.S. allow some form of sports betting since the Supreme Court decided to remove the federal ban on sports gambling in May 2018. Before that, it was banned everywhere except Las Vegas and a few other places.
North Dakota is also following the trend and loosening up its view on gambling. Just days ago Rep. Jim Kasper proposed a resolution with which he aims to put online poker on the 2022 general election ballot for state residents to vote on.
In the 80s and 90s, lottery measures were shot down by North Dakotans. Initiated measures in 1996 to legalize the lottery, video gambling machines in bars and restaurants, as well as bingo halls, were voted against as 69% of the people rejected them. Now North Dakota has a few tribal casinos, pari-mutuel racetracks, and the availability of multi-state lotteries and hundreds of charitable gambling operations. Although it isn’t a very populated state, its gaming establishment concentrations are among the highest in the U.S.
According to a spokesman, GOP Gov. Doug Burgum will not advocate for legal sports wagering, he will also not be against it.