If you like to travel a lot, chances are you know that several places, like Paris, Texas, for example, feature a 1/10 scaled down version of the genuine Eiffel Tower found in France. That’s exactly what the city of Deadwood is to South Dakota – a scaled down mirror image of Las Vegas. Main Street is lined with casino gaming establishments, like a mini-Strip located a thousand miles away on the mid-western edge of the Mount Rushmore State. However, you won’t find state-licensed casinos anywhere else in South Dakota – only a handful of the tribal variety.
Most forms of gambling were outlawed long ago by the state’s ‘Codified Laws’. The only forms of wagering that were permitted were charitable raffles and bingo games, and eventually a state-run lottery. It wasn’t until 1989 that officials thought they could appease the masses by permitting casino gambling in just one location. Voters were given the option to legalize limited card gaming and slot machines in Deadwood, and the majority said ‘Yay’ to the proposal. Over the next 20+ years, more than two dozen establishments flourished within the city limits of Deadwood.
Legality of Online Poker in South Dakota
If law makers are so strictly opposed to so many forms of gambling across 99.% of the state, one begins to wonder just how acquiesce South Dakota is toward real money online poker games. Is it legal in the state, or are there specific laws prohibiting poker play over the internet? If not explicitly criminalized, are there equivocal gambling laws that might forbid the activity? What penalty would be imposed if it’s not legal to play online poker in South Dakota?
We will attempt answer these questions by examining the current statutes to determine whether or not online poker is legal in South Dakota. But first, let me be perfectly clear. We are not lawyers, judges or any other type of professional experts where it comes to legislative lingo. We urge everyone to seek legal counsel for a precise answer as to the legality of online poker in South Dakota.
South Dakota Codified Laws – Gambling
The following texts are taken directly from South Dakota’s Codified Laws as they may relate to the activity of online poker. Note that some text may be abridges to condensed to eliminate unnecessary verbiage, but the meaning remains unchanged.
22-25-1. Gambling Defined – Keeping gambling establishment–Letting building for gambling–Misdemeanor.
Any person who engages in gambling in any form with cards, dice, or other implements or devices of any kind wherein anything valuable is wagered upon the outcome… is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
21-6-1. Action by loser for recovery of losses – Persons liable–Limitation of actions.
Any person who shall lose any thing of value at any game, or by betting on any game, may recover the same or the value thereof from any other person playing at the game at which such thing was lost, or from the person with whom the bet was made, or from the proprietor of the place where the game was played, in a civil action, in which such proprietor and all persons engaged in the game may be joined as parties… within six months after the date of such loss.
22-25A-1. Bet or wager defined.
For the purposes of this chapter, the term, bet or wager, means to directly or indirectly take, receive, or accept money or any valuable thing with the understanding or agreement that the money or valuable thing will be paid or delivered to a person if the payment or delivery is contingent upon the result of a race, contest, or game or upon the happening of an event not known to be certain…
22-25A-7. Internet betting by person engaged in gambling business prohibited.
Except as provided in § 22-25A-15, no person engaged in a gambling business may use the internet or an interactive computer service to bet or wager.
22-25A-8. Establishment of internet gambling business prohibited.
Except as provided in § 22-25A-15, no person may establish a location or site in this state from which to conduct a gambling business on or over the internet or an interactive computer service.
22-25A-9. Violation if gambling originates or terminates in state–Each bet a separate violation.
A violation of § 22-25A-7 or 22-25A-8 occurs if the violation originates or terminates, or both, in this state. Each individual bet or wager offered in violation of § 22-25A-7 or from a location or site that violates § 22-25A-8 constitutes a separate violation.
22-25A-15. Inapplicability of chapter to state lottery or commission on gaming.
This chapter does not apply to the South Dakota Lottery and its licensees…
What does it all mean? Is online poker illegal in South Dakota?
South Dakota has been one of the easier states to study, and we feel very confident in saying yes, online poker is illegal in South Dakota. One of just a few states to specifically address the issue of internet gambling, the laws are quite clear on the subject. You’ll notice that in section 22-25A Internet Gambling, the fault seems to lie exclusively with the operators; those who present online poker to South Dakotans. There are no penalties set forth for players in this chapter. However, in section 22-25 – the original chapter that dealt with gambling offenses long before internet gambling was amended – the penalty for engaging in gambling in any form (including with cards and by use of any devices) is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
Is South Dakota working to regulate online poker?
After going to so much effort to explicitly outlaw online poker in South Dakota in 2000, it wouldn’t make much sense to see lawmakers spend a lot more time reversing their stance anytime in the near future. It hasn’t been the focus of any government sessions, and with a population of just 833,000, why should it be? Until online poker spreads much farther across the US, with interstate compacts becoming the norm – something that would likely require federal regulation of online poker – players in South Dakota really shouldn’t get their hopes up. And even then, the state’s strict views of limitations on gambling could prevent legislators from taking any steps towards online poker regulation for many years to come.