A North Dakota Senate committee has punted a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment for legal statewide sports betting for now.
The Senate Judiciary Committee decided against voting on the proposed amendment (HCR 3002) Monday after nearly an hour of testimony, although no reason was given for the delay.
The proposal has not yet appeared on the committee’s agenda for Tuesday.
HCR 3002 as written would put off-reservation legal sports betting on professional sports on the statewide ballot in Nov. 2024. Approval by voters would authorize lawmakers to change state law to allow sports betting on professional sports as early as 2025.
Betting on college sports would not be allowed under the proposed amendment.
North Dakota already allows online sports betting on reservations of five tribal nations that have approved gaming compacts with the state. But no online sports betting is allowed off-reservation without a constitutional amendment.
North Dakota Sports Betting Proposal Survives House Committee Vote
HCR 3002 was referred to the committee in February after passing the North Dakota House 49-44 a month earlier, on Jan. 12. That vote gave the proposal one more vote than the 48 it needed to get to the Senate.
Some may see the House vote as a fluke. The House Judiciary Committee, after all, voted 9-4 on Jan. 10 to report out the proposal with a recommendation that it not pass the full House.
The House passed it anyway.
That may seem like a curious string of events to pol watchers in the majority of states where legislation voted down in committee never makes it any farther. But North Dakota operates differently than those states when it comes to committee votes. It specifically prohibits committees from holding or killing bills. All legislation must be returned to the floor with or without majority committee support.
That rule gives legal sports betting in North Dakota a greater chance at passage in the current legislative session than it would have otherwise.
Online Sports Betting Now Operational on ND Tribal Lands
North Dakota lawmakers behind HCR 3002 appear eager to strike a balance with online sports betting now a go on the reservations of five tribal nations under tribal-state gaming compacts signed with Gov. Doug Burgum in Dec. 2022.
The new compacts allow the tribes – the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation, Spirit Lake Tribe, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North and South Dakota, Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians – the right to operate online sports betting on their lands.
At least some of the tribes want to operate sports betting and even iGaming beyond their reservations, according to a Dec. 2022 Associated Press story. But so far the state has rejected the tribes’ efforts to expand online sports betting statewide.
Sports betting proposed by HCR 3002 would specifically require betting on professional sports to be “licensed and regulated by the state.”
What’s Next for ND Sports Betting
North Dakota still has time to get HCR 3002 through both houses this session, should it be taken back up in committee in the coming weeks.
The last day of the 2023 regular session of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly is scheduled for May 4.