South Dakota Real Money Online Gambling

South Dakota has a long and storied gambling history, even though much of this history was written before it even became a state. Statehood, as it often does, put a damper on South Dakota’s gambling scene, although this has been slowly added back over the years as the state matured and became more accepting of real money gambling once again.

South Dakota gained a lot of fame by it being the only state in the United States that did not lock down during the Covid-19 pandemic or engage in the other restrictive measures that were used to some degree everywhere else in the country. We would think such a state, who insisted on defending personal liberty this way, would also take an open approach to gambling, but many see it instead as being on the conservative side of the scale.

We will show you that this is not the case at all, that the state of South Dakota not only has lots of gambling, it is everywhere, and they pack in a tremendous amount of gambling and gambling opportunities into this very thinly populated state. We’ll also show you how those who do wish to exercise their liberty can gamble at so much more than this.

History of Gambling in South Dakota

South Dakota Online Casinos and GamblingDuring its gold rush days, the city of Deadwood, South Dakota was s virtual gambling haven. It once had as many as 80 casinos, in a city of only 25,000 people at its height. That’s a lot of casinos per person, and to say that gambling was popular among them during this time would be an understatement.

The city was well frequented by both gamblers and gunfighters, including such famous names as Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickok, who met his end while playing poker in Deadwood, with the two aces and two eights as his up cards when he was shot is known as the dead man’s hand, still famous in poker lore.

Deadwood in those days were as lawless as you get, as it was in Indian Territory and only the Indians had legal jurisdiction, which they were not at all interested in applying. Lawlessness is normally used to indicate a lot of lawbreaking, while genuine lawlessness means the absence of laws, and that’s what Deadwood had back then.

South Dakota becoming a state changed all that, who took a dim view of it and associated it with violence, and the two did go together back then. The city prospered as long as the mines were open, but when they ran out of gold, this once bustling city saw its population drop down to 1,200 people.

Gambling became banned not only in Deadwood but in the entire state of South Dakota in 1905, or at least that was the intention of the law, even though some get confused about the constitution prohibiting states from approving it with laws against certain types. The state did come up with laws against it, although like in some states it might appear to be more comprehensive than it actually is under closer examination, it did at least leave the impression that it made all gambling illegal unless the state specifies otherwise.

The rebuilding of South Dakota’s gambling scene started in 1933 when the state amended their constitution to allow for legal gambling to allow for pari-mutuel wagering. It wasn’t until 1947 that the state got its first track to do it on, the Black Hills Dog Track, and in 1955, Tri-State started offering betting on horses, which became known as Park Jefferson in 1958.

Both of these tracks have been relegated to history, and the only remnants left of this gambling amendment is the fact that pari-mutuel wagering remains legal in the state. This allows South Dakotans to bet on races held in other states by way of several online off-track betting apps that serves states such as this one that permit such wagering but do not have any tracks in the state to bet on.

The only gambling the state authorized between 1933 and 1986 was the allowance of charitable gambling, and they waited until 1986 to finally approve a state lottery, well after more gambling progressive states got it. This served to whet the state’s appetite for gambling, and in 1989, they changed the law once again to allow for casino gambling in the state, but only in the city of Deadwood.

Deadwood was dying at the time and the plan was to look the other way enough to allow the city to get its casinos back after all these years in an effort to survive. There may not be the 80 casinos back when the city’s glory days when it was much larger than today, but 22 casinos in a city of 1,200 is even more amazing perhaps.

While South Dakota’s non-tribal casinos must be located in the city of Deadwood, 1989 was the year that the state lottery started rolling out their video lottery terminals, which are basically lottery themed electronic slot machines. South Dakota’s aren’t just slots though, they are much more. In addition to “line games,” they also offer lottery games, poker, bingo, keno, and blackjack.

1993 saw the state enter into compacts with its Indian tribes, leading to 12 Indian casinos being opened in the state. As per the compact, the tribes have been given the power to offer anything offered in Deadwood’s casinos, which includes slots, blackjack, poker, and soon, sports betting.

Sports betting has now been approved and is set to roll out soon, and all of the state’s casinos are eligible, both the ones in Deadwood and the native casinos. South Dakota has not chosen to approve any online gambling yet, but this might not be too far away.

South Dakota Key Facts

  • Abbreviation: SD
  • State Motto: Under God the People Rule
  • Capital City: Pierre
  • Largest City: Sioux Falls
  • Population Estimate: 884,659 (46th)
  • Website: sd.gov

South Dakota Gambling Laws

The section of South Dakota law dealing with gambling is broken down into two chapters, with the older section called Gambling and Lotteries and the second called Internet Gambling. We’ll look at the first chapter first and then look at what the South Dakota has to say about gambling online in their state.

The main provision tells us that it is against the law to engage in gambling “in any form, with cards, dice, or other implements or devices of any kind wherein anything valuable is wagered upon the outcome.”

There are two elements to this, where a device or implement of any kind is used and wagers placed upon the outcome of results produced by such devices. Some think that this outlaws gambling period in the state, and although this is broad, it’s not that broad.

What did South Dakota miss here? They didn’t miss any games that people use implements or devices to produce outcomes that settle the outcome of bets, and that includes all real money casino games including poker. This does not speak at all to placing wagers on other things, like the outcome of sporting contests, where the outcomes of our bets are not settled by bettors using implements or devices and do not even participate in any way in the result.

The view of others that this bans game of chance is a much better one, even though the term of chance is noticeably missing from the legal text. That’s what the outcome of devices or implements in gambling are used for, to produce results based upon chance to some extent. The goal of the law should be to make its understanding as plain as you can make it though, and the authors of this could have done a much better job at telling us what is against the law where gambling is concerned.

Poker and casino games are clearly out though, when implements or devices are used that is, land-based poker and casino games in other words. We have to look a little more carefully to discern that this does not apply to online poker and casino gambling though, and even though the crowd does not even bother to look here to see if this applies or not to online gambling, instead being directed at the chapter of the law dealing with online gambling instead, this one comes close enough to deserve a careful look.

Online gambling escapes this section for the same reason that sports betting does, where we do not use implements or devices to produce the results that we are wagering on. We gamble online with devices though, so shouldn’t that qualify?

We’ll start by showing you how this could be fixed so that you can see what is missing. It is illegal to place wagers whose outcome depends on the use of implements or devices or any other contingent event. Among contingent events that you could bet on, only some involve the outcome being determined by implements or devices, where the implement or device itself decides it.

If this were not the case, it would not even be meaningful to mention devices, and they could have instead said wagering anything of value upon anything, but the anything here includes and requires the use of these devices. The actions in placing sports wagers, whether the bet was placed at a land-based sports betting terminal, a piece of paper, or over the internet, has nothing to do with the outcome. A device of some sort is used, but not one that affects the outcome of the bet, and this law needs both.

The same is the case with the device that you may be using to place other bets over the internet, as the outcome is external to the device being used to place the wager. Merely placing a bet on your device is prior to and external from the outcome, and like writing your bet on a piece of paper is using a device, it is not the pen and paper that decides the bet.

The deciding point here is the requirement that we shall not engage in gambling “with” implements or devices, and the “with” part tells us that for this to be the case, the implements or devices are the means to gambling, gambling “with” cards or other devices that produce the outcome that is being bet on.

This comes very close to banning real money online gambling, where very close legal analysis is needed to adjudicate this, but close doesn’t count where the law is concerned. It turns out that this comes far closer than South Dakota’s dedicated chapter to online gambling, which doesn’t actually deal with gambling online in general at all, but something else, in spite of how many are confused by this in thinking this makes it illegal to gamble online in the state.

Before we look at that though, it should be mentioned that racing horses for the purpose of the races being wagered upon is against the law, not the betting on them but the racing of them. This might not seem very worthy of interest until you consider that the title of this section is “Unlawful betting on animal races,” then they tell us that racing horses for gambling purposes is what is against the law. If they wished to make it a crime to bet on horses, they forgot to put that part in.

The “Internet Gambling” chapter starts out by defining “bet or wager,” and for the purposes of this chapter it is defined as taking bets, as a commercial operator would. It leaves no doubt as to the legality of taking bets on anything whatsoever in such a manner.

The next definition is what a “gambling business” is, and it is those in the business of taking wagers. It defines it as “a business” that conducts various gambling activities, rather than just “business that is conducted,” as many might understand this as referring to, and this involves separate meanings, and a business that is involved in gambling is a commercial interest.

They then define what the internet means, and now the pieces are in place to look at what this law renders illegal. We might think that we’re going to see using the internet to run a gambling business being against the law, but they instead tell us that “no person engaged in a gambling business may use the internet or interactive computer service to bet or wager.”

This is a huge miss if South Dakota wished to make offering gambling over the internet illegal, at least when we look at this carefully, because these operators do not bet or wager, they take bets or wagers, an entirely different thing. If people are considering running an online gambling enterprise in South Dakota, they need to be careful not to place bets themselves while doing so, although they are the only players that are prohibited from this, as this chapter does not apply to those not in the gambling business.

South Dakota’s law is certainly among the most poorly written gambling laws in the country, but they do at least manage to prohibit land-based games of chance, where chance plays any element at all, and the use of devices necessitates the element of chance, because that’s what they function to do. You also can’t challenge your friends to a horse race for money, but that’s about the extent of this law as written.

Land-Based Gambling in South Dakota

While there are no places to bet on animal races anymore, betting on them remains legal in the state, and South Dakotans can still get their fill of this by taking advantage of several apps that cater to those who wish to bet on these races online. While this is not exactly South Dakota authorizing online gambling, these are American and not offshore sites that take players from states where pari-mutuel gambling is legal, which does include South Dakota.

South Dakota also explicitly authorizes charitable gambling within certain limitations, and this is even written into the state’s constitution, at least as far as providing the state legislature permission to authorize it.

Back in South Dakota’s early history, the city of Deadwood was famous for its saloons, and this small city once boasted 80 of them. People would come from far and wide to gamble there, but when the 20th century came, the state had had enough of gambling and shut it down.

Almost a century later, the saloons are back in Deadwood, and although there aren’t anywhere near as many as in the old days, 22 is quite a bit for a city with only 1,200 residents. These are small casinos, and this is like taking a trip back in time to the Old West, and you can even visit and stay at one of the city’s original gambling places, the Bullock Hotel, built by former Deadwood Sheriff Seth Bullock in 1896 for $40,000.

Many of Deadwood’s casinos would not look out of place in the early days, with several old hotels, some newer ones made to look old, and even a bunkhouse and casino. The Super 8 Motel in Deadwood also offers casino gambling. There are some more modern looking structures, with all offering slots, and many offering other forms of casino gambling like blackjack tables and poker tables.

If you can imagine visiting a frontier town with real money gambling from end to end, where you can get a room and gamble in their little casinos, this is Deadwood. The biggest differences are that you don’t have to ride there by horse anymore, nor have to worry about both being good at cards and handy with a gun like in the old days.

South Dakota was once part of Indian Territory, and the state itself was named after the Dakota tribe, and the state’s tribes experienced a revival when the wave of Indian gaming swept across the country in the early 1990s. In the original agreement with the state’s 7 tribes, only slots were allowed, but this has been since expanded to offer blackjack as well as poker.

The tribes currently operate 12 casinos across the state, all of a modest size, offering slots, blackjack, and poker. This makes land-based gambling more accessible to South Dakotans, at least the sort that are played at casinos, but the reach of South Dakota casino gambling is much more extensive than what they have in Deadwood or at these 12 tribal casinos.

The big player in South Dakota gambling is the South Dakota lottery, who offer much more than lottery tickets. The lottery was created in 1986, the lottery ticket selling part of it anyway, although along with permitting Deadwood casinos again 3 years later, the state also created the nation’s first video lottery operation.

There are currently 8,900 of these video lottery terminals located across the state. These aren’t just slot machines, they are multi-purpose electronic gaming terminals where you can play a variety of gambling games, from lottery style games, to bingo, to keno, to video poker, to blackjack, to what they call “line games,” slot games in other words.

The state wrote in permission for these terminals in the state constitution, and while slot machines are illegal outside of approved casinos, the state lottery can offer as many of these multipurpose machines as they wish. There’s lots of casino gambling outside of Deadwood and tribal lands, they just don’t call it casino gambling, they call it lottery terminal playing.

You can play anything at these terminals that you can play at any of the state’s casinos, at a single machine anywhere one is located. We’ll have to see if the newly approved sports betting ends up being integrated into these terminals as well, although it is coming to Deadwood and the state’s Indian casinos for sure now.

  • List of Land Based Casinos in South Dakota
    CasinoAddressPhone
    Royal River Casino & Hotel607 S Veterans St, Flandreau, SD 57028605-997-3746
    Silverado Franklin Hotel & Casino709 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732605-578-3670
    Gold Dust Casino & Hotel688 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732605-578-2100
    Fort Randall Casino & Hotel7011, 38538 SD-46, Lake Andes, SD 57356605-487-7871
    Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel16415 Sioux Conifer Rd, Watertown, SD 57201800-658-4717
    Mineral Palace Hotel & Gaming601 Historic Main Street, Deadwood, SD 57732800-847-2522
    First Gold Gaming Resort270 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732605-578-9777
    Hampton Inn Deadwood at Tin Lizzie Gaming Resort531 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732605-578-1893
    Tin Lizzie Gaming Resort555 Lower Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732605-578-1715
    Grand River Casino & Resort2 US-12, Mobridge, SD 57601605-845-7104
    Prairie Wind Casino & Hotel112 Casino Dr, Oglala, SD 57764605-867-6300
    Holiday Inn Resort Deadwood Mountain Grand1906 Deadwood Mountain Drive, Deadwood, SD 57732605-559-0386
    Golden Buffalo Casino321 Sitting Bull St, Lower Brule, SD 57548605-473-5577
    Dakota Connection Casino46102 SD-10, Sisseton, SD 57262605-698-4273
    Cadillac Jack's Gaming Resort360 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732605-578-1500
    East Wind Casino110 Grandma B Dr, Martin, SD 57551605-685-1140
    Hickok's Hotel & Gaming685 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732605-578-2222
    Buffalo Bodega Gaming Complex658 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732605-578-1162
    The Midnight Star677 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732605-578-1555
    Gold Dust Casino & Hotel688 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732605-578-2100
    Oyster Bay Bar & Casino628 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732605-578-2205
    Historic Bullock Hotel & Casino633 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732605-578-1745

South Dakota Online Casinos & Slots Gambling

South Dakota hasn’t approved any online gambling yet, and while the state is among those that jumped in to approve sports betting lately, some only have approved it on land and not online as of yet, and South Dakota is one of them.

There is a strong interest in extending South Dakota’s sports betting to the online realm, but one of the challenges is the state’s constitutional provision to only allow gambling in the state in the city of Deadwood, at least apart from the exceptions enjoyed by the Indians and the lottery. Online gambling would take it outside the city to the entire state, which would be subject to a state referendum to amend South Dakota’s constitution once again, as they just did when they approved sports betting by a 58-42 margin in 2020.

The current update to South Dakota’s constitution allows the legislature to approve sports betting in addition to the existing games they can authorize, but stipulates that this approval requires the authorized gambling to be within the city limits of Deadwood.

The issue here is the stipulation within the constitution that the state may not “authorize any game of chance, lottery, or gift enterprise” and then lists their exceptions to this. None of this means that any gambling is rendered illegal by way of constitutional provisions, as this just defines the powers of the state legislature, who then make laws in abidance with it, but if we’re looking for them to approve online gambling and they are not permitted by the constitution, they need to change the constitution first.

South Dakota has certainly shown plenty of favor toward real money gambling lately, but remains limited by its idea that the only suitable location for it is in Deadwood, where the state dipped their toe in the gambling waters over 30 years ago with the Deadwood gambling project, and still haven’t managed to get more than a toe in the water until very recently.

Times are changing though, especially when we see the state add more gambling after a three -decade long drought, and with talk of more. It really wouldn’t take that much to at least see South Dakota say yes to online sports betting, although the hump to get over is a bigger one than we usually see in states that restrict their gambling to such a tiny area of the state.

If we correctly apply South Dakota law to online gambling, there really isn’t anything in there to sufficiently establish that it is against the law for South Dakotans to gamble online for real money, even though fine distinctions need to be made to interpret it properly. Much clearer law such as South Dakota’s prohibition on those in the business of gambling wagering online tend to be plenty misunderstood enough, and when you understand this as to mean that those not in the gambling business gambling online would be illegal as well, you have missed a difference that is far from subtle.

Whether or not South Dakota makes online gambling illegal comes down to whether the devices that people use to gamble online qualify as a device under the state’s definition, and the way that it is defined imply that the devices play a primary role in the outcome, not an incidental one like your mobile phone or computer. This is the one that requires a more careful examination.

It doesn’t really matter from a practical standpoint how this law is to be understood in practice, because even if it did make this against the law in South Dakota, there’s nothing that the state can do enforce this law, reducing its power to that of a suggestion.

As South Dakotans await their first state regulated online sports betting site, with online poker and online casino gambling coming some time later, those who simply choose not to wait have several great real money online gambling sites awaiting them instead, offering all of the popular real money online gambling forms, online sports betting, online casino, and online poker.

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Future of Gambling in South Dakota

At first glance, the South Dakota gambling scene may not look like all that much, a small town with some little casinos and a few more tribal ones scattered throughout the state, with no online gambling at all to go along with it.

We might think that the state needs to open up its land-based gambling a lot more, and get online gambling in the first place, to raise themselves from a below-average gambling state to an above-average one, but they already are above average when you look more closely.

South Dakota’s 34 small casinos definitely count for something, even though they are only located in a few locations, but the South Dakota Lottery has stepped in and filled the gap very well and add almost 9,000 electronic gambling machines to the mix, located everywhere in the state people live. With only 884,000 people to play them, that’s a lot of machines indeed per capita, and when you add in the actual casino gaming, you end up with quite a bit indeed for a state this small.

Now that the state will be getting legal sports betting, that makes the scene even better, even though South Dakota does not authorize online sports betting or any real money online gambling, aside from the opportunity horse and dog bettors have to place their bets online at sites hosted outside the state.

When we look more closely though, South Dakota already has a vibrant online gambling scene, with opportunities to not only place wagers on sporting events online, but also allow gamblers in the state to enjoy real money online poker and real money online casino action as well.

The internet is a lot like Deadwood used to be in their lawless days, although enforcing the law was at least possible in theory there, and did indeed become imposed. The internet is lawless by nature, not because there aren’t any laws, but because there is no way for anyone to enforce them whether they exist or not.

Anyone in South Dakota looking to add to their gambling experiences by taking advantage of these online opportunities have certainly come to the right place, as we provide you our expert recommendations on the best real money online gambling sites in the world that accept players from South Dakota. All you need to do is choose to do it and choose your preferred games to play and then get ready to enjoy.

South Dakota Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
  • What was South Dakota’s gambling scene like in its early days?

    Back before South Dakota became a state, when it was part of a region of the country known as Indian Territory, the South Dakotan city of Deadwood was a real tourist spot, offering all the things that travelers of the day wished for, the hotels, the saloons, and the brothels. The gold brought the people there in the first place, and then after the saloons were built, this brought even more. Deadwood was the regional capital of gambling in the late 19th century.

  • Why did South Dakota get rid of gambling in 1905?

    South Dakota became a state in 1889, and this was a time when the country had shifted its attitude away from gambling. States very often would ban gambling the very year that they became a state, but South Dakota was more tolerant than most, and kept it for 16 years. Eventually, as opposition to gambling in the country, including in South Dakota, continued to grow, the state finally gave in to the pressures of having a more proper approach to gambling.

  • What gambling does South Dakota law make illegal?

    There are two parts to gambling law, what you cannot do legally, and what you can do legally. Ideally, to give a state full control over this process, you can’t gamble at all, unless the state gives you permission for certain types. All states do well at telling you what you can do, but some don’t do so well at defining the prohibitions. South Dakota law does clearly make land-based games of chance illegal, although their obscure language requires some thinking.

  • Is it legal to gamble online for real money in South Dakota?

    By way of appearances, South Dakota would at least seem to make online gambling illegal, especially given that there is an entire chapter in their criminal law called Internet Gambling. It turns out that this is directed at those in the business of gambling, and if this were to apply to everyone, they could have just directed it towards those engaged in real money gambling, and left out the “business” part. It doesn’t even outlaw being in the business of gambling effectively.

  • How can it be legal to gamble at something that South Dakota doesn’t make legal?

    While there are certain types of gambling that states prohibit, and others that they explicitly permit, there’s a third set, that which is neither. The meaning of the term “legal” means an action that is not prohibited by law. Actions are therefore legal by default unless they are made illegal by law, and if the law does not make it illegal, it is therefore legal. Anything the law misses is permissible.

  • Does South Dakota have legal pari-mutuel wagering?

    South Dakota made pari-mutuel betting legal all the way back in 1933, and this led to tracks being built and run for many years. This business has been in decline for quite some time though, as it went from the only game in town in a lot of states, such as South Dakota, to having to compete with all of today’s options, and the tracks are now gone. South Dakotans are still permitted to place wagers on races held in other states through off-track betting apps.

  • What land-based gambling does South Dakota have?

    The South Dakota Lottery is the star of the show where land-based gambling in the state is concerned. They not only sell lottery tickets, they have 8,900 electronic gambling machines spread across the state. South Dakota also has 34 small casinos, with 22 of them in the city of Deadwood and the other 12 on tribal lands. The casinos and the video lottery terminals offer slots, poker, and blackjack. Land-based sports betting is on the way.

  • Is social gambling legal in South Dakota?

    While South Dakota has written exceptions into its law for charitable gambling, as most states have, they do not provide any for social gambling, gambling between players without any third party operators involved. This type of gambling is also clearly against the law. However, not only has South Dakota not enforced this law with home games, there are even some public establishments that openly let their patrons gamble at cards just like the old saloons did.

  • Does South Dakota have regulated online gambling yet?

    The closest that South Dakota comes to regulating real money online gambling is they’re not standing in the way of their people using off-track betting apps regulated elsewhere. There was some interest in adding online sports betting to the state’s sports betting bill, but the state constitution needs to be changed first. Once this obstacle is removed, South Dakota will then be on a path to approve online sports betting along with online poker and casino should it wish.

  • Can South Dakotans gamble online even without the state’s permission?

    It turns out that South Dakota’s wishes for their people to gamble online or not, their approval or disapproval, does not present any sort of obstacle in practice. Since they cannot catch people doing it, as they do not have the means, you simply do not need the state’s permission to enjoy all the real money online gambling you wish, of any type. Follow us to the best sites that take South Dakotans that the world has to offer.

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Chief Editor: Mike leverages his true passion for online gambling to create a uniquely informative site that takes players well beyond the standard fare in the industry.