Residents of North Dakota are deprived of any major sports teams. It doesn't matter which level of play we're talking about. College, professional, even high school—North Dakota isn't home to any squads of big-time significance. Some of their high schools and colleges generate strong local interest, but that intrigue is superficially manufactured by convenience and obligation more so than anything else.
North Dakota Sports Betting Law
The absence of major sports squads at essentially every turn usually implies a less-than-flexible approach to the gambling industry. But not in North Dakota. Some of their policies are quirky—especially on the social gambling front. They also won't be among the states to legalize domestic sportsbooks anytime soon. They are bullish on their interpretation of skill games versus events dominated by chance, and the lack of professional and collegiate powerhouses eliminates most of the need to have sportsbooks.
All of that being said, North Dakota offers more than their fair share of opportunities for bettors to get their fix in through other forms of gambling.
Strong Dose of Casino Options
Five tribal casinos populate North Dakota, while another five tribal establishments with more restrictive gaming licenses have also popped up across the region. This is a pretty big deal for a state that ranks 47th among the 50 states overall in citizenship, according to the 2016 consensus.
Big-company casinos are not explicitly illegal in North Dakota. Corporations are free to try opening their own establishments. But most conglomerates aren't likely to funnel a bunch of time and resources into low-volume areas like North Dakota, hence the monopolization of the casino market by tribes.
Daily Fantasy Sports: The Grayest of Areas
Talk about a weird non-stance. North Dakota acknowledged the existence of fantasy sports as early as 1994. They subsequently hedged on its legality, communicating that games of chance would be considered illegal while those of skill would be legal.
Skip ahead more than two decades, and they've still yet to provide definitive literature on the matter. No proposal to officially legalize daily fantasy sports is pending, and advertisements for companies like Draft Kings and FanDuel have been removed, but residents also aren't prohibited from registering for money leagues and competitions.
For now, until North Dakota shows a willingness or interest in providing clarification, the absence of a specific law can be interpreted as a tacit allowance.
Social Gambling is Okay...For the Most Part
Social gambling is permitted by the State of North Dakota to a degree. Charitable organizations still need licenses to operate large-scale events, and as an interesting oddity, at-home games toe the boundaries of legality if the buy-in or wager exceeds $25.
This obviously creates some complications for people who like to host weekly poker games or create semi-lucrative football pools, but the rule isn't closely monitored. Participants should be fine so long as they're not flaunting their bets or attempting to run a covert casino or sportsbook.
Domestic Poker Sites Coming North Dakota(?)
For a state that has waffled on their stance to daily fantasy sports, North Dakota's preliminary interest in advancing the availability of online poker is borderline astounding. Certain representatives have tried pushing for the opening of domestically located poker mediums, which would allow the state to get a cut of money that's being gambled away anyway.
Nothing definitive has materialized, and the idea would appear dead for now. North Dakota, like many of the 46 other states that don't allow local online gambling, is waiting on New Jersey's attempt to reinvent itself as the Las Vegas of the East Coast. Their success would set a precedent for North Dakota and any other place looking to capitalize off the online gaming industry—which, in the United States alone, is a billion-dollar sector.
North Dakota Gambling Law Overview
Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren't allowed in North Dakota at this time.
Casino Gambling: Legal
Tribal Gambling: Legal
Horse-Race Betting: Legal
Dog-Race Betting: Not legal
Daily Fantasy Betting: Not specified (but it's existence has been acknowledged)
Social Gambling: Legal (with certain, albeit loosely enforced, restrictions)
Charitable Gambling: Legal
Online Gambling: Not specified
North Dakota Sports Teams
Please note that due to the absence of professional teams in North Dakota, we will split our focus between any in-house squads and the most popular professional factions that are located outside state lines.
Minnesota Wild (NHL)
Given North Dakota's relative proximity to Minnesota, a majority of their sporting interests lie with teams that play within said market. That includes Minnesota Wild.
The Wild have clinched postseason appearances in each of the past five years, losing in the in the first round during just one of those instances. This marks an impressive accomplishment for a franchise that's only technically been around for less than two decades.
Minnesota Vikings (NFL)
The Minnesota Vikings are perennially known for toying with the emotions and heart strings of their fans. They have enjoyed stretches of dominance throughout their existence, but their historical track record is steeped in disappointment. They have never won a Super Bowl, and they went 0-4 in those championship tilts between 1969 and 1976. Just think about that for a second: being close so many times, so friggin' often, and never once climbing that championship mountain.
What's happened in the years after those high-profile letdowns hasn't helped. The Vikings haven't made a Super Bowl appearance since 1976, and they've clinched five playoff bids since 2001.
Comparably gut-wrenching: Just when things began to turn around with Teddy Bridgewater under center, the franchise quarterback suffered a major injury in 2016. He missed the entire season, and his status in the coming years is unknown. Some around the league believe he'll never be the same. The Vikings need to hope those minds are wrong, lest they be relegated to another impromptu dark era.
Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)
The Minnesota Timberwolves are the Vikings of the NBA. They've enjoyed one long stretch of notable success since joining the NBA in 1989—an eight-year stretch headlined by Kevin Garnett, an onslaught of 50-win seasons and eight straight playoff cameos.
That's all well good. But The Timberwolves lost in the first round seven times over the course of those eight tries, only reaching the Western Conference Finals once. They have missed the playoffs in every year since 2004, during which time multiple rebuilding reiterations have failed...miserably.
On the brighter side, the latest rebuild appears to be on the right track. The Timberwolves have no less than two All-Star candidates in Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns, and they could end up with one more if Andrew Wiggins ever pops.
So worry not, Timberwolves fans. Your absence from the playoffs should be over soon—if it's not already over by the time you read this.
North Dakota's Biggest Sporting Event of the Year: Motor Magic Festival
Held in Minot, North Dakota, the Motor Magic Festival is considered the biggest auto show in the "upper midwest." It's hard to determine which states exactly populate the upper midwest, so part of that distinction rings hollow. But still, this festival is a big deal in North Dakota.
It's held every year near the end of August or beginning of September, and functions like a multi-vehicle monster truck rally. There are demonstrations for military automobiles, classic car showcases, souped-up contemporary sedans and coupes, and so much more.