November 30th, 2021
North Dakota ranks 48th in the US in terms of total population. The state does not have any commercial casinos. There is no form of any legal online gaming platform at the present time.
Previous efforts to pass legislation to expand into legal sports betting have come up short. However, there is still a way residents and visitors to certain parts of North Dakota may soon be able to bet on the games.
The state does offer casino gambling through tribal operators. One of those tribal casinos is busy making plans to open a retail sportsbook.
Dakota Magic Casino & Hotel is the premier gaming location in North Dakota for the Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise (DNGE). Along with slots, the casino floor offers various table games such as Blackjack, Texas Hold’em and Craps.
Legal sports betting is the next gaming option to be added to the menu. Earlier this summer, the casino first announced its plans to build a Las Vegas-style sportsbook lounge. Dakota Magic decided to leverage its association with the IGT PlaySports platform to operate the book.
Wanda Varns released this initial comment as the casino’s general manager:
"We are thrilled to be one of the first enterprises in the state to add sports betting to the list of things to love at our casinos."
Dakota Magic Casino & Hotel is located in Hankinson, North Dakota. This is one of three tribal casinos owned and operated by DNGE. This is also one of the largest casinos in the state. The other two venues also have plans to offer legal sports betting as part of their gaming options.
From the state’s legislative front, efforts to put the question of legal sports betting on the ballot in North Dakota have yet to be approved.
Under the terms of the DNGE’s gaming compact with the state, nothing specifically prohibits tribal casinos from offering retail sports betting. The initial offering at Dakota Magic may be limited to betting clerks and stand alone kiosks.
Plans to open a full service retail sportsbook have targeted the NFL’s Super Bowl LVI in mid-February. There has been mention of off-site sports betting and even a mobile betting app. However, each of these capabilities remain a work in progress.
North Dakota gaming tribes have led the fight to keep legal sports betting under their jurisdiction. This mirrors the situation in other states with casinos owned and operated by gaming tribes.
Most gaming compacts are formed between a state’s governor negotiating the terms with tribal leaders. Any expansion of gaming with an existing compact then needs to be approved by the US Department of the Interior.
In certain cases, there is no specific wording in an existing compact that would make sports betting illegal. In those cases, certain gaming tribes have moved forward to add retail sports betting in established casino venues.
Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert. You can learn more about our author's expertise here.