For a state with no major professional sports teams, The Peace Garden State seems to have put up an intense fight in the bid to make North Dakota sports betting legal. Several bills have tried – and many have failed – to push for amendments to the current gambling laws in the state, while pari-mutuel betting on horse racing has been permitted since the late 1980s, as has casino gaming.
North Dakota Sports Betting
Moreover, the last 40 years have seen an expansion in gambling for charitable causes and casino gaming within North Dakota. The state has operated its lottery for almost 20 years. In the wake of the new charitable gambling laws, North Dakota saw a higher proportion of charitable gamblers than any other state. Despite such a rich history, North Dakota sports betting remains unofficial statewide.
Only three of the state’s many casinos can legally offer North Dakota sports betting. However, these tribal casinos, operated by the Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise, were granted permission at the end of 2021 to offer sports betting.
However, as yet, there are no proposals on the horizon to legislate for North Dakota sports betting in other venues within the state. In addition, while the Peace Garden State came close to legalizing North Dakota sports betting in 2021 with the House Resolution Bill, this was narrowly defeated and failed to pass. Therefore, whether or not North Dakota sports betting is legalized remains to be seen.
Legal Online North Dakota Sports Betting
As a North Dakota resident, if you are looking to place a sports bet. In that case, only in-person retail North Dakota sports betting is allowed, and these are only permitted at three Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise casinos on tribal lands. In addition, the legislation enabling sports betting in the Peace Garden State has not yet addressed mobile betting. While North Dakota sports betting is still illegal statewide, apart from within the three tribal casinos, there are some options for North Dakota sports betting online via offshore sportsbooks, such as Bovada and BetOnline.
US citizens can use online gambling websites and apps from wherever they reside in the country, including North Dakota. However, it’s worth noting that many of these sites are not operating with a license and offer no protection to those placing bets on them. There is, therefore, a risk that winnings are not paid out, or your account could be closed without your funds returned. As of summer 2022, no bills were circulating for online mobile North Dakota sports betting, and it seems unlikely that a ballot initiative won’t appear until at least November 2025.
How To Pick A North Dakota Sports Betting Site
While North Dakota sports betting isn’t yet available for mobile sports betting apps, state residents can bet on sports safely and securely on their phone browsers if they wish. However, if you want to participate in North Dakota sports betting, you should always make sure you use a reputable site.
The North Dakota Gaming Division regulates all state charitable gaming and land-based casinos. In contrast, the North Dakota Lottery Commission regulates and operates the state lottery and has done so since its creation in 2004. Once you’ve narrowed down a list of credible, trusted sites, it’s worth looking at any promotions they offer and comparing them.
History / Timeline of North Dakota Sports Betting
North Dakota’s sports betting history is rocky, with numerous failed attempts to legalize the practice. Legislation for sports betting within the state dates back to 1976 with the North Dakota Limited Gaming Referendum. The ballot saw the approval of new measures that permitted specific organizations to conduct games of chance if the profits went towards charitable causes.
In 1987, an expansion of the charitable gambling laws saw North Dakota have more gamblers per person for good causes than any other state in the US. That year also saw the legalization of pari-mutuel sports betting, such as horse racing.
The 1990s saw further expansion of charitable betting in North Dakota and the introduction of casino gaming in the state. This started in 1992 when the state government permitted five tribal communities to build casinos allowing Class 3 table games. However, it wasn’t until 2002 that North Dakota finally voted to be included in multi-state lotteries, creating its state lottery in 2004.
However, in the 2000s, attempts to expand North Dakota sports betting really gained momentum. In 2005, North Dakota State Representative James Kasper introduced a bill to allow online video poker. Unfortunately, the Republican couldn’t garner enough support for the bill to pass, but his campaign paved the way for North Dakota’s long battle with pushing to amend its gambling laws.
2006 in North Dakota saw state approval for games of chance, including daily fantasy sports. However, the legislative moves in North Dakota’s sports betting scene slowed down after this – it was more than a decade later when things started to pick up again.
In 2018, the Supreme Court overturned the 1992 PAPSA, which paved the way for legal sports betting in all US states. Bill HB 1295 was introduced the following year in an attempt to authorize sports betting as a game of chance but failed to pass. However, that same year, North Dakota sports betting moved closer to reality when it legislated for government-approved compacts with tribes.
Things were looking up with the introduction of House Resolution 3032, which aimed to sanction North Dakota sports betting. However, in early 2021, the bill narrowly failed to pass by just a single vote.
Finally, in December 2021, North Dakota sports betting was officially legalized at three of its tribal casinos operated by the Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise. As a result, North Dakota sports betting is now legal, but only in-person and at these designated casinos.
North Dakota Sports Teams
While North Dakota is not particularly renowned for its international sporting teams, the Peace Garden State has produced an impressive array of teams on a local level. For example, the state capital hosts the Indoor Football League’s Bismarck Bucks. Also, before relocating to California and playing as the Santa Cruz Warriors, the Dakota Wizards of the NBA Development League were based in Bismarck.
The Peace Garden State has several NCAA college athletic teams. Division I is the University of Dakota Fighting Hawks and the North Dakota State University Bison. At the same time, Division II has the University of Mary Marauders and the Minot State University Beavers.
Ice hockey and baseball are also popular in North Dakota, with Fargo housing the Tier I Junior USHL ice hockey team, the Fargo Force, and the American Association’s Fargo Moorhead RedHawks.
On a national level, many North Dakota sports betting fans support major professional teams from neighboring Minnesota, such as the NBA Timberwolves, NFL Vikings, NHL Wild, and MLB Twins.
Retail North Dakota Sports Betting
In the Peace Garden State, all charitable gaming and land-based casinos are regulated by the North Dakota Gaming Division. Casino gambling in North Dakota was officially legalized in 1992. Today, five tribal resorts and one commercial casino are open and operating within the state. In addition, North Dakota is also home to some charitable casinos. These include King Pin Casino, Borrowed Buck’s Roahouse, and Blue Wolf Casino, all in Cass County, The Stadium Sports Bar in Burleigh County, and Nickels Lounge and Casino in Bismarck County.
While there are many tribal casinos within North Dakota, only the three operated by Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise allow for sports betting. Betters can find sportsbooks at the Dakota Connection in Sisseton, the Dakota Magic Casino and Hotel in Hankinson, and the Dakota Sioux in Waterton. However, you can still enjoy a fun night of gambling at the state’s many other tribal casinos. For example, in Rolette County, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians operates the famous Sky Dancer Casino, which boasts more than 800 slot machines, video, live action poker, and much more.
You can also enjoy a good night at the Four Bears Casino in Mackenzie County, courtesy of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation and the Spirit Lake Tribe-operated Spirit Lake Casino in Benson County.
Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) betting is legal in North Dakota; however, as in most states, they appear to be a bit of a grey area and permitted due to exploiting a loophole. When the US government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, it categorized fantasy sports as games of skill rather than games of chance.
While there are no official proposals in the pipeline to sanction DFS betting in North Dakota legally, there are likewise no plans to ban it. North Dakotans are, therefore, lawfully able to partake in DFS betting. The best sites for those wishing to bet on fantasy sports in North Dakota are DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel, and Draft Day.
Offshore North Dakota Sportsbooks
As online sports betting is not yet legal in North Dakota, residents might wish to access offshore online sites from within the state; however, this is entirely at their own risk. Offshore platforms are less likely to be licensed and regulated. Therefore, you have no protection if the site refuses to pay your winnings or pulls another dodgy scam on you.
If you decide to bet on an offshore online sports betting site, make sure that it’s regulated – for instance, sites based in Costa Rica or Curacao are recognized internationally. Thus, these are considered safe to use.
North Dakota Horse Racing & Off-Track Betting
Pari-mutuel sports gambling on horse racing was legalized in North Dakota in 1987. Since then, the North Dakota Racing Commission has supervised and regulated all state pari-mutuel pools and betting machines. The commission also schedules racing dates and enforces rules preventing the use of methods or substances that could fix the races.
North Dakota has seven sites for off-track betting. Two of these, The Bowler and Turf Club, are located in Fargo, while Bismarck is home to Chips. The rest are Rumors in Grand Forks, Sky Dancer Casino in Belcourt, Jamestown Eagles Club in Jamestown, and El Rancho Club in Williston. You must be at least 21 to bet on horse racing in North Dakota.
Final Thoughts / Summary
While there is a market for online gambling, North Dakotan residents might have to wait a long time before legal sports betting becomes official. The state lottery has been a success, and casinos remain popular. However, only three casinos operated by the Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise are legally allowed to offer North Dakota sports betting.
Whether the Peace Garden State makes legislative measures to allow the other casinos to follow suit remains to be seen. It’s also interesting to consider who would spearhead sports betting in the state when and if it becomes legal. Would it be the North Dakota Lottery? The Charitable Gaming Commission?
Also, how exactly would it be executed? Any organization that adopts North Dakota sports betting – should it be legalized in the state – would undoubtedly have to adjust and accommodate. Smaller casinos might benefit from working in partnership with other companies with more experience and the infrastructure to handle sportsbooks.
Furthermore, any vendor that adopts legal North Dakota sports betting should have a long-term strategy; for instance, they might consider the development of mobile apps if that is also permitted by state legislation. Finally, many organizations and individuals in North Dakota could profit from legalized North Dakota sports betting within the state.
Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that it will be eventually permitted one day, though it is up for debate. However, with four bills to amend the laws successively struck down since 2019, it looks unlikely that we’ll see legal North Dakota sports betting anytime soon.