Our Voice: South Dakota should be open to sports betting

Last month, the door opened to betting on sports in South Dakota and other states where it is now illegal.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a federal law enacted in 1992. The ruling means that states besides Nevada can decide whether they will permit gambling on sports.

This ruling has cleared the way for states like South Dakota to potentially earn huge amounts of cash. And though some might find the entire concept abhorrent, we believe South Dakota cannot afford to ignore this opportunity.

Estimates vary widely on how much money is illegally bet on sports in the United States. Most likely is wagered on professional sports, such as pro football.

Some experts estimate the range of money bet illegally to be $50 billion to $400 billion annually. UNLV’s Center for Gaming has estimated that nearly $5 billion was bet legally in Nevada in 2017.

South Dakota residents in the past have voted an emphatic no to new taxes like a state income tax, and an enthusiastic yes to new forms of gambling.

The state has gathered in more than $2 billion since the first video lottery machines were turned on in 1989. In 2017, video lottery accounted for 7 percent $105 million of revenue in the state’s general fund.

Change to state Constitution

Currently, the South Dakota Constitution does not permit sports betting in the state. To change it, daftar poker a state constitutional amendment would have to be placed on the general election ballot through the petition process or from an act of the state Legislature, and then passed.

A Deadwood gambling advocacy group already is discussing trying to put such a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2020. Not only are Deadwood casino owners making plans for and dreaming dreams of possible legal sports betting profits, so are groups like the one who are trying to keep horse racing alive in Aberdeen and Fort Pierre.

“We think that thousands of South Dakotans want to wager in sports betting, but they want to do it in a legal, safe environment, and so we’d like to give them that opportunity,” Deadwood Gaming Association executive director Mike Rodman said. “I think that whenever we can take illegal gaming and make it legal and … regulated, it’s good for the consumer.”

Voting on sports betting and setting up regulations for it would be part of the process for states like South Dakota to see if sports betting is a right fit. If it eventually is, we would encourage leaders to study the best practices from the states who have gone before us.

Others see pitfalls in the logic of legalized sports betting, both intellectually and morally.

Leaders like former state representative and 2006 Democratic governor candidate Dr. Jack Billion of Sioux Falls. While acknowledging to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that betting on sports is here to stay, Billion has opposed expanded gambling in the past.

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