South Dakota Online Poker Laws

South Dakota Online Poker Law

The heart of poker in South Dakota is the legendary town of Deadwood on the far west border of the state, where a handful of traditional card rooms dot the small town of barely 1,200 people. It’s a significant tourist town and where poker Hall of Famer Wild Bill Hickok found his death while supposedly holding aces and eights, now dubbed the Dead Man’s Hand.

Poker is a major part of South Dakota’s history, but lawmakers are showing no signs of considering any form of online poker or online gambling. In fact, South Dakota law specifically prohibits any forms of online gambling (although poker is not specifically mentioned).

South Dakota lawmakers appear to be taking the position of protectionist for its vast casino industry, marked by the historic card rooms and more modern Indian casinos, of which there are nine.

If online poker legalization comes to South Dakotans, be sure that the many tribes there will have a significant voice moving forward. Like the state’s legislators, the tribes have given no indication as to how they will play the online poker hand.

Both the legislators and the tribes surely will weigh their options soon. The state’s 35 gambling establishments generated about $16.6 million in direct taxes for South Dakota. The industry’s gross revenue for 2011 was a little more than $107 million, making South Dakota one of the smallest casino markets in the United States.

There are a few ways the tribes of the Indian casinos could go as they watch the rest of the country and their fellow Native Americans in other states go after a piece of the online-poker market.

The tribes could try to do what two gambling tribes in Oklahoma recently did and negotiate a deal with the state government to allow them to set up online poker rooms so they can enter the international market, not including the United States. Or the casinos could push for an online gambling ban in order to protect both its employees and its profits. More than 1,600 people are employed by the casino industry in South Dakota.

There doesn’t seem to be any push for an online gambling bill, but an online poker bill just might have a chance. Poker is popular in South Dakota; the Heartland Poker Tour stops there, and tournaments can be found any night of the week.

Also, an American Gaming Association’s study in 2013 concluded that online poker implementation would not hurt brick-and-mortar casinos’ attendance numbers, but general online gambling legalization would. Lawmakers and tribal managers are surely aware of this piece of information.

When Will I Play Online Poker in South Dakota?

No one at the state level is talking about online poker legalization, so online poker players will certainly have to wait at least until 2015 before any real movement takes place. There’s always the chance that the tribes have something in mind and will try to convince lawmakers to act sometime in 2014, but that’s being optimistic. For any chance, a potential online poker bill must stand alone from a general online gambling bill.