A measure seeking to provide South Dakota voters with the power to decide on the fate of sports betting legalization in Deadwood failed in the House State Affairs Committee. The measure got rejected with 7 to 3 votes against the proposal, but then, representatives used a procedural move in order to ensure that it gets a new life and is presented to the floor.
It has already been given the green light by the Senate.
According to Mike Rodman, the Executive Director of the Deadwood Gaming Association, the supporters of the measure will exhaust the legislative options they have at their disposal before gathering the necessary number of signatures to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot.
If the amendment’s backers do not get the necessary support at the Capitol, they would have to collect approximately 34,000 signatures to put the measure to the statewide ballot. For the time being, the South Dakota Legislature has the power to give the nod to a constitutional change before the supporters of the measure gather signatures. Petitions are due in November.
The push for gambling market expansion comes after the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting in May 2018, providing all states across the country with the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not to make sports betting legal. The proposed constitutional amendment would provide local Legislature with the chance to give the nod to gambling in Deadwood and at tribal casinos across the state.
Measure’s Proponents Will Need at Least 33,921 Valid Signatures
The House State Affairs Committee first made a 5-5 tie on endorsing SJR 2. Then, the proposed constitutional amendment was rejected by the Committee with a 7-3 vote.
Previously, the measure had managed to make it through the South Dakota Senate without a yes vote to spare, 18-14.
No less than 33,921 valid signatures from registered South Dakota voters would have to be gathered by the measure’s proponents, who will have to submit them to the secretary of state by November 3rd in order for the proposed amendment to make it to the 2020 ballot.
Deadwood has become a major driver of the tourism industry of South Dakota since gambling was legalized there in 1989. Now, proponents of sports betting claim that the addition of the new form of gambling to the local gaming sector would come as another attraction for visitors, providing further growth for the tourism and entertainment sector.
According to Lynzie Montague, who oversees two Deadwood-based properties for Liv Hospitality, sports betting could help the town survive, as it is expected to bring additional revenue and generate extra tax, as well as to help with employee retention.
The measure faced opposition and criticism from David Wiest, Deputy Secretary at the Revenue Department, who claims that regulation costs would surpass the revenues expected to be generated by the addition of the new form of gambling. According to Wiest, Republican Governor Kristi Noem has also made it very clear that she was against further gambling expansion in South Dakota.