Sports betting is now legalized in more than a dozen states across the United States. Unlike betting on other games like soccer, American football, basketball, baseball and hockey, sports betting is a widely accepted form of wagering that allows people to place their bets on sporting events as well as other businesses. Though the practice has gained popularity over time and has become more widespread, it is still considered illegal in some states. North Dakota is one such state where sports betting is illegal. Though the state has already considered becoming one of the few legalized sports betting states, sports betting is yet to be made possible in the state at the national level.
North Dakota is one of twenty states plus the District of Columbia that have legalized sports betting through the use of virtual systems or bookmakers. While this practice is not recognized by the NCAA or major college athletic associations, it is still legal in the state. The reason for the legislature’s inaction in legalizing sports betting is that representatives of the gambling industry have opposed efforts to legalize the practice because it will make it easier for individuals to use the federally funded System Operated License (SOLE) to operate online sports betting Casinos. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has also put a stay on the idea of legalizing sports betting, due to the profitability of collegiate athletics.
Though the idea for legalizing sports betting in North Dakota was tabled in March, it was brought up again in the fall when the NCAA set forth a proposal to allow teams to post point spreads without needing to rely on outside organizations to do so. This would create an additional revenue source for teams, potentially allowing them to increase attendances. In addition to the proposed change in the point spread, a number of other changes were also brought up before the bill was ultimately passed in the fall. One of those changes was to eliminate the role of the Minnesota Supervisory Commission on Gambling, which had previously approved sports betting in the state.
Opponents of the sports gambling bill claimed that the move was an attempt by the NCAA and other groups affiliated with the sports gambling industry to “capture” the North Dakota gaming market. They maintained that the new law would open the door for all kinds of fraud, since it eliminates the need for state permission to place sports bets. The Minnesota Sports Betting Association also stated that there will be fewer regulations on wagering because the federal ban on sports gambling was lifted. However, the NCAA did not immediately renew their support for the North Dakota initiative. As of now, no new sports betting bills are in the works.
Many states are attempting to enact new gambling laws. Those attempts face an uncertain future because the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that prevents state officials from implementing new online sports betting laws. The House also recently passed a resolution which allows state officials to deny requests to expand the amount of money allowed on state-based gambling websites. Those moves have prompted some counties to begin preparing for new online sports betting legislation. If the House passes a bill like that, Internet gambling could soon become illegal in several areas across the country.
Two of North Dakota’s most populous counties have already announced that they do not intend to recognize the NFL in any way. Their resolutions, posted on the Internet, read, in part, that “we, the people afraid county request that the North Dakota State Board of Licensee not list the NFL in our state.” The two counties that made that request are Fargo and Bismarck. Those two cities play host to the NFL’s only remaining franchise, the Dakota Lions. While no current events involving the Bills or Dolphins could impact the status of those teams’ bids to join the NFL, many experts speculate that the upcoming Super Bowl could have a large effect on the outcome.
The moves by the North Dakota counties and by the NCAA are creating a sense of urgency for the handful of states with sportsbooks that offer sports betting. According to reports, two of the counties have already begun discussions with the NCAA to move its games from their books to a book that does not list the NDSL. One of the reasons that the proposed legislation is being pushed by members of the legislature is the fear that the NCAA will lose some of its members to the competition. It is possible that the newly formed “NDSL” could sweep in and capture a large percentage of the football betting business. With that, the new betting product would be forced to move into the offline world.
This could spell trouble for the existing online sports betting sites in the state. However, there are enough supporters in the House and Senate to push the bill through. If the bill were to pass, it is expected that the online gambling industry would face at least two more major threats this year. As compared to the past two years, when the two-year old National Collegiate Athletic Association cracked down on college football betting, which was considered one of the few legal alternatives to online gambling, the NDSL is looking stronger than ever before. The success or failure of the new bill will depend on whether enough support is found to push it through the legislature.