South Dakota is a frontier state with a number of recreational activities in which residents and visitors can participate, including gambling. Perhaps one of the most popular gambling games for which skill is not required is the state lottery. The state also permits people to play at commercial as well as tribal casinos. The state regulates gambling so as long as an individual engages in one of the regulated activities, they are acting within the bounds of the law. Among other activities, South Dakota permits card games, such as poker, the lotto, and pari-mutuel betting.
Social gambling is implicitly permitted in the state because the legislature understands that with a relatively small state population and few recreational options compared to those in other states, social gambling, e.g. home games of poker, etc., is a public good. South Dakota’s gambling laws do not currently allow for social or private gambling outright since it is an unregulated gambling activity. However, as previously mentioned, there is an implied acknowledgement that it occurs and that it is not truly a crime, hence the lack of criminal prosecutions on such charges. Although people can get into trouble with the law if they break gambling laws, even social gambling ones, prosecutors in the state have greater offenders to prosecute than low-level players and even operators.
Overall, South Dakota gambling law is broad and circular.
Section 22-25-1 states the following: “Any person who engages in gambling in any form with cards, dice, or other implements or devices of any kind wherein anything valuable is wagered upon the outcome […] is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.” Unfortunately, that statute does not specify what gambling is, only the forms that it can take, which, as proscribed, are illegal. The statute goes on, however, to indicate that breaking this law is a misdemeanor offense. Although the law is broad and vague because it provides no description of gambling, people in the state overall understand what they can and cannot do. This common knowledge is likely passed down generationally.
Online Gambling Laws
South Dakota has been a frontier state with respect to online gambling, though not necessarily in the way gamblers would presumably hope, by legislating (via Chapter 22-25A) that online gambling is illegal. However, pursuant to the law, and more specifically, pursuant to its intent, operators rather than players are the individuals and entities targeted for beginning online gambling operations. Such offenses can be charged as felonies. Although this is the case, there have yet to be criminal cases for online gambling in the state. Relatedly, the state does not seem to be making any moves, at least soon, to bring regulated gambling online. There is no partisan reason for this; the matter simply has not been one of concern due to other prevailing policy concerns.
Recent Legal Developments
Regarding recent gambling developments in the state, Governor Duugard has recently signed a law making patronizing a casino (in Deadwood) after having been banned a Class 1 Misdemeanor. If convicted, the maximum penalties could be a year incarceration and a $2,000 fine.
Casinos in South Dakota
There are approximately thirty five tribal and casinos in the state, including, among others, the following: Buffalo Bodega Gaming Complex, Dakota Connection Casino and Bingo, and Deadwood Gulch Resort.
- Lockhart, J. (2014, February 26). New South Dakota Law will Keep Banned Players out of Casinos. Retrieved from KSFY.com