HCR 3002

North Dakota: Sports betting bill dies in Senate in a 16-30 vote

Reading time 1:24 min

North Dakotans will not be getting a ballot measure from the Legislature on whether to legalize sports betting in the state. The Senate killed House Concurrent Resolution 3002 by Rep. Greg Stemen on Monday in a 16-30 vote.

The measure would have required the Legislature to authorize sports betting in North Dakota, with licensing and regulation by the state.

The House of Representatives passed the measure 49-44 in January. If ultimately approved by the Legislature, the measure would have gone on the November 2024 general election ballot to be decided by voters.

North Dakota legislature.

Supporters touted the measure as an effort to regulate and bring oversight and consumer protections to sports betting, which is already happening in North Dakota, technically illegally.

The Senate last month killed Senate Judiciary Committee amendments to the resolution that would have allowed but not required the Legislature to authorize sports betting, and only for professional sports. The House in January had defeated the same amendments.

Some senators who opposed the measure viewed voting for the resolution as an endorsement of gambling. As reported by Inforum, Senator David Rust said  he believed gambling in North Dakota “mushroomed to the point where I have in no way, shape or form a desire to expand it.”

Lawmakers this session have been grappling with the proliferation of electronic pull tab machines since 2018. Sen. Janne Myrdal said sports betting essentially uses "our athletes as human commodities" for for-profit gambling.

Supporters said voters should decide the issue. Sen. Scott Meyer, said the measure is not an expansion or allowance of sports betting, but an effort to regulate and provide consumer protections for what is already happening in North Dakota. "Doing nothing will not protect those that need the help," Meyer told the Senate.

The Senate also killed a bill in February for a proposed sports betting task force to develop an implementation plan for online sports betting and regulation, as well as any related legislation.

As many as 138,000 North Dakotans are betting over $300 million annually, including $30 million in revenues to offshore betting books, according to American Gaming Association data Stemen has cited.

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