The relaxation of state gambling laws has been a consistent theme in North Dakota legislation, but opposition to gambling from lawmakers and voters has subsided over the past two decades. Opponents of gambling have argued that expanding the legal boundaries to include the practice would exacerbate gambling addiction problems, while supporters pushed for new gambling laws to generate new revenue for the state and nonprofits.
With a vote of 70:24, Members of the House overwhelmingly supported House Concurrent Resolution 3032, which would give North Dakota voters the power to legalize sports betting in the November 2022 election.
If voters agree to the practice, the details of the North Dakota industry will be governed by House Bill 1234, which also advanced Tuesday. This framework law would set up a five-person commission within the North Dakota Attorney General to regulate gambling in the state.
Since a 2018 US Supreme Court ruling paved the way for states to legalize sports betting, many states have taken the opportunity to legalize the practice while about two dozen others ponder legislation to do so.
"By allowing people to vote on it, we have settled this once and for all," said Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck.
House lawmakers also tabled House Concurrent Resolution 3012 on Tuesday to include internet poker legalization in the 2022 general election. The chamber cleared the resolution with 54-40 votes.
The resolution to legalize online poker was tabled by Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, who has been unsuccessful in legislating the issue since 2005.
"There are thousands of people in North Dakota who play online poker. It's unregulated; it's not taxed," said Kasper, who cited a poker industry estimate that its 2005 legislation was $ 500 million in annual taxes US dollars stacked for poker would have been state.
The parameters of the industry would be governed by House Bill 1389, which also advanced in House on Tuesday.
Separately, on Tuesday the House defeated House Bill 1448, which would have authorized the state's five tribal nations to negotiate an agreement with the governor to legalize sports betting and online gambling in tribal areas, pending approval of the next statewide voting year.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers spoke out in favor of the law, advocating "a level playing field" between tribal and non-tribal residents of North Dakota in the gambling industry.
Kasper spoke out against the bill over concerns that the bill's language could restrict online gaming legalization to tribal lands, and said tribes would have the option to legalize sports betting and online poker if the practices were approved by voters would.
Readers can reach forum reporter Adam Willis, a member of the Report for America Corps, at [email protected]