With neither professional franchises nor collegiate powerhouses of which to speak, the state of South Dakota is not home to a particularly ambitious sportsbetting—or, for that matter, sports fandom—scene. They do have their own rooting interests, most of which piggyback off the state of Minnesota’s sports factions. But the absence of in-house organizations hasn’t made for a lot of progress on the sports gambling front as a whole.
South Dakota Sports Betting Law
Sports betting in South Dakota is, officially, illegal. Not one of their casinos is allowed to house a sportsbook, and their laws on poker and internet gambling outside those casinos is ambivalent at the very best. To date, there also hasn’t been a strong push to make any changes, which we’ll get into with more nuance below.
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South Dakota ranks in the bottom five of total population in the United States. And yet, it falls much higher on the casino-volume scale. They have 13 tribal-operated gaming facilities sprinkled throughout the region—which, for the record, is a lot. The number of gambling halls is no coincidence, though. South Dakota has eight federally recognized tribes located within their boundary lines. Together, they make up ownership of all 13 casinos.
State-License Race Tracks
In addition to all of their tribal casinos, South Dakota sports a handful of state-licensed race tracks, a few of which offer electronic gaming options, including simulcast horse racing.
Daily Fantasy Sports are Okay…Maybe
Reverse props to South Dakota for their totally uninformative stance on daily fantasy sports. Proposals to legalize them have thus far been contested across the board, but the attorney general has also stated participants will not be prosecuted for patroning sites like Draft Kings and FanDuel.
Which, um, okay. That basically means daily fantasy sports are legal. At the same time, you need to exercise caution should you be a resident of South Dakota.
They still reserve a right to press charges, since it’s not technically a sanctioned activity, and the state’s gambling laws are restrictively generalized (even more on this shortly).
Our official advice: Avoid the high-stakes tourneys. At the very least, don’t make enormous deposits and withdrawals that stand to be flagged by your bank and reported to the government.
Don’t Hold Your Breath for Legalized Sportsbetting
That South Dakota doesn’t register among the states trying to aggressively push through legalized sports betting isn’t absolutely flooring.
They don’t have the sports teams to prop up widespread interest, and a lot of states are waiting to see how New Jersey’s bill for sportsbooks pans out before making their own initiatives.
But South Dakota’s gambling laws aren’t definitive. They don’t specify what “gambling” really is. The assumption is anything that requires more luck than skill qualifies, but again, the description is completely ambivalent. While you can make the case this creates a level of openness and flexibility, it’s equally restrictive because it gives them the freedom to enforce anti-gambling protocols as they see fit, since they’re all typically deemed illegal without the proper regulation. So don’t expect them to enter the fray for legalized sports betting until a bunch of other states have done the same.
South Dakota Gambling Law Overview
Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren’t allowed in South Dakota at this time.
- Casino Gambling: Legal
- Tribal Gambling: Legal
- Poker: Legal (but not necessarily specified outside casinos)
- Horse-Race Betting: Legal
- Dog-Race Betting: Legal
- Lottery: Legal
- Daily Fantasy Betting: Not legal (but they’re not looking to enforce it)
- Social Gambling: Legal (but also ambiguous)
- Charitable Gambling: Legal
- Online Gambling: Not specified
South Dakota Sports Teams
Due to the absence of enough noteworthy teams in South Dakota, we will split our focus between in-house squads and the most popular professional factions that are located outside state lines.
Minnesota Wild (NHL)
Get ready for a lot of Minnesota sports talk in South Dakota. With no collegiate superpowers, professional franchises or major minor league MLB affiliates in their midst, they latch onto all things from their close personal neighbor.
Hockey falls pretty high on that list (apparently), which renders the Minnesota Wild a major point of interest. They’ve clinched postseason appearances in each of the last five years while getting eliminated in the first round only once.
Not bad for a franchise that’s technically been around for less than two decades, huh?
Minnesota Vikings (NFL)
Yes, the Minnesota Vikings are still a touchy topic in South Dakota, just as they are in their home state. They have never won a Super Bowl, despite making four big-game appearances between 1969 and 1976. Talk about your close calls.
After that, you have to factor in an extended slump of inconsistency. The Vikings have an on-again, off-again relationship with making the playoffs. And most recently, just as they were on the upswing, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a major injury that has many in and outside the league doubting his future.
Here’s hoping Vikings fans get some good karmic vibrations soon.
Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)
Did someone page the Vikings of the NBA? Because that would be the Minnesota Timberwolves.
After a handful of 50-win seasons in the mid-to-late 1990s, the wolves entered a state of postseason dormancy. They haven’t clinched a playoff berth since 2004, and even their longest stretch of relevance was plagued by first-round exits; during a stretch in which they made eight postseason bids in a row, they were eliminated from the opening segment seven gosh darn times.
Silver linings now abound. Sort of.
The Timberwolves have a budding star in Karl-Anthony Towns and a current All-NBA megahuman in Jimmy Butler. Add in a strong supporting cast, headlined by Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng, and they have the opportunity to be something special really soon.
South Dakota’s Biggest Sporting Event of the Year
Think NASCAR, but for motorcycles—without the lap-structured racing. Close to a half-million people partake in the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally every year. It is usually held in August and functions like an auto show. Everyone lays out their bikes for people to peruse and test out.
What’s more, the revenue stream is pegged somewhere between $600 and $800 million annually. Correct: It can generate more than a quarter-billion in profit for one year.
That’s a big deal to a smaller state like South Dakota, which sees its inhabitant population increase by 40 to 50 percent while the rally is going on.