Casinos were introduced to South Dakota in 1989 through a constitutional amendment, which was designed to save the municipality of Deadwood from turning into a ghost town. This decision allowed the local Native American tribes to build their own casinos, now legal due to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
That same year, the legislature also permitted local businesses to install VLTs under the supervision of the South Dakota Lottery. This decision was later confirmed in a referendum, but the local gambling industry was not allowed to expand any further.
South Dakota Gambling Law Summary
South Dakota law defines unlawful gambling as “engaging in gambling in any form with cards, dice, or other implements or devices of any kind wherein anything valuable is wagered upon the outcome” and classifies it as a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment for up to 30 days. Engaging in betting over the internet is also prohibited, as is maintaining a gambling place or equipment. Only state-sanctioned games of chance are allowed when there is money involved.
Most gambling-related matters are covered by South Dakota Codified Laws, Chapters 21-6, 22-5, and 42-7B. The minimum gambling age is 18 for lottery games and 21 for VLTs, casino games, and horse race betting.
Online Gambling in South Dakota
South Dakota gambling regulations are all about targeting illegal gambling operators instead of individual players. The only charge that a person participating in unlawful gambling activities is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is listed in South Dakota code, Section 22-25-1. The law doesn’t refer specifically to online gambling, and the authorities haven’t even attempted trying to apply the general regulations to internet games on trial. Hence, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that South Dakota-based iGaming enthusiasts have nothing to worry about.
South Dakota Casinos
Casino-style gambling is allowed in Deadwood and on Native American Reservations. There are 20+ licensed gambling establishments in Deadwood, but some of them only offer a few slots. Larger casinos also offer video poker and classic table games, such as craps, roulette, and blackjack. The local tribes operate eleven casinos, which are located in Flandreau, Lower Brule, Martin, Mission, Mobridge, Pickstown, Pine Ridge, Sisseton, and Watertown.
Before 2013, local casinos were required to enforce a $100 maximum bet limit. In 2013, this limit was raised to $1,000.
Also, dozens of bars and gas stations across the entire state have been allowed to install Video Lottery Terminals. These machines are functionally similar to slots, but they operate under the purview of the South Dakota Lottery. The maximum return on VLT games is 92 percent, so they are slightly riskier to play than slots.
South Dakota does not have a regulated online casino market. Local businesses are explicitly prohibited from operating any gambling sites, and playing on offshore sites constitutes a Class 2 misdemeanor.
South Dakota Poker
There are ten live poker rooms in South Dakota. Four of them are located in Deadwood. The following tribal casinos operate the remaining six: Dakota Sioux Casino (Watertown), Fort Randall Casino (Lake Andes), Grand River Casino (Mobridge), Lode Star Casino (Ft. Thompson), Prairie Wind Casino (Pine Ridge), and Roval River Casino (Flandreau).
Most of these venues operate only 3-5 tables, but since South Dakota law prohibits the casinos from offering no-limit games, local poker enthusiasts have access to games that would be considered somewhat niche under normal circumstances, such as Limit Hold ’em, Spread Limit Hold ’em, and Limit Omaha.
South Dakota residents do not have access to any state-sanctioned online poker platforms. Playing on offshore sites is illegal and constitutes a Class 2 misdemeanor.
South Dakota Sports Betting
Pari-mutuel betting has been legal in South Dakota for decades. Live horse race betting is available at the local racetracks in Ft. Pierre (Stanley County Fairgrounds) and Aberdeen (Brown County Fairgrounds). Off-track betting is permitted at satellite locations more than 50 miles away from licensed racetracks. Greyhound racing is legal but is no longer available in the state. Also, South Dakota residents can engage in online betting via US-facing OTB platforms, such as TwinSpires, BetAmerica, and TVG.
In early 2019, South Dakota legislators introduced a bipartisan sports betting bill, which would have allowed Deadwood gambling facilities and tribal casinos to launch land-based sportsbooks. The Senate Affairs Committee initially approved the bill by a 5-4 vote, but unfortunately, the House State Affairs Committee voted 7-3 against the proposal. This is hardly surprising since Gov. Kristi Noem is vehemently opposed to any kind of gambling expansion in the state. There is still hope that this issue will be put on the 2020 ballot.
As it stands right now, sports betting is illegal in South Dakota.
South Dakota Daily Fantasy Sports
South Dakota does not have any DFS regulations. DFS companies continue to operate in the state, claiming that they offer skill-based contests that do not meet the legal definition of gambling. In December 2015, South Dakota’s Attorney General, Marty Jackley, issued a statement declaring that the law is not clear enough to seek felony indictments absent explicit directions from the legislature. He also said that he is considering “civil remedies.” In the end, no action was taken.
For now, South Dakota residents are free to participate in paid DFS contests on FanDuel, DraftKings, and Yahoo DFS. However, the situation might become volatile if the local anti-gambling lobby decides to crack down on those sites.
South Dakota Lotteries
South Dakota Lottery offers popular interstate draw games, such as Powerball, Mega Millions, and Lucky for Life, as well as scratchers and local games, such as Dakota Cash EZ Match. As mentioned above, the lottery also oversees the operation of VLTs that are available at the local pubs and gas stations. The lottery is prohibited from selling any of its products over the internet, so all tickets must be purchased from licensed retailers.
South Dakota Bingo
Charity organizations may host bingo games, provided no prizes over $2,000 are offered. Also, South Dakota residents can play commercial bingo at a few tribal venues, such as Prairie Wind Casino (Pine Ridge), Rosebud Casino (SD/NE State Line), and Dakota Connection Casino (Sisseton). Local businesses are prohibited from operating online bingo sites. Playing on offshore sites is illegal and constitutes a Class 2 misdemeanor.
South Dakota Online Gambling FAQ
What types of gambling are available in SD?
South Dakota is a reasonably gambling-friendly state that allows you to engage in all kinds of real money games. The state operates its own lottery and has numerous commercial and tribal casinos. However, South Dakota doesn’t have any pari-mutuel horse race betting and hasn’t regulated online gambling so far.
What laws cover online gambling in South Dakota?
Section 22 of South Dakota code regulates playing games of chances for money in South Dakota. None of the laws listed there refer specifically to iGaming or even mention online play, so it’d be tough for the authorities to do anything about people who decide to gamble on offshore sites.
Is real money online gambling legal in South Dakota?
Yes, the state doesn’t seem interested in going after individual players based on land-based gambling laws. Furthermore, applying those laws to online games of chance would be very questionable in the first place.
Which offshore gambling sites accept South Dakota residents?
South Dakota isn’t very restrictive when it comes to online gambling, so most sites have no problems with accepting new South Dakota-based customers.
What are the most popular banking options supported by South Dakota -facing sites?
Most sites offer only a few deposit methods, so we recommend sticking with standard credit/debit cards for maximum convenience. The available withdrawal options often include bank wire transfer and check by courier.
Does South Dakota offer any intrastate online gambling?
No, South Dakota doesn’t have any regulated iGaming sites. The legitimate sites that accept South Dakota residents are without any exceptions based outside the United States.
Is it likely for South Dakota to regulate online gambling?
No. The local casino industry isn’t pushing for new iGaming laws, and the local politicians aren’t very likely to tackle this issue by themselves.