Published: December 5, 2022

North Dakota Gov. signs compacts lowering gambling age, allowing in-reservation sports betting

Gov. Doug Burgum announced Friday that he has signed new compacts with North Dakota’s American Indian tribes. The agreements lower the legal gambling age from 21 to 19 at tribal-owned casinos, and allow gamblers on reservations to use credit or debit cards to gamble. They further allow mobile sports betting within reservation boundaries.

Burgum last month rejected a plea by the state’s five tribes to give them exclusive rights over iGaming and sports betting outside reservation because it isn’t allowed under state law. The signature of the new agreements last Friday came after months of meetings between the parties. Current compacts expire early next year, which prompted the negotiation of new ones.

We are deeply grateful to the tribal chairs and their representatives for their collaboration throughout these many months of negotiations, and we look forward to continuing the mutually beneficial gaming partnership between the state and the sovereign tribal nations with whom we share geography,” Gov. Burgum said in a statement.

The new tribal-state gaming compacts now go to the U.S. Department of the Interior for final approval, which has 45 days to approve or reject the signed agreements. If the Department takes no action within those 45 days, the compacts automatically go into effect.

In addition to the aforementioned changes, the updated compacts also eliminate unnecessary duplication of regulation and clean up “a number of other regulatory and definition issues.” The new deals are in place for 10 years.

The tribes had initially asked for exclusive rights to conduct online gaming and sports betting statewide, through a system where bets would be funneled through computer servers on tribal land. However, Burgum rejected that plea stating that “a clear legal path does not exist for the governor to grant such a broad expansion of gaming.”

North Dakota’s five tribes wanted the exclusive rights given their casinos, which typically are among their biggest employers and help fund social programs on reservations, have been hurt by the explosion of pull tab machines legalized in 2017 to benefit charities. North Dakotans poured almost $1.75 billion into the machines in fiscal 2022, reports Associated Press.

Under the new agreements, the state’s five tribes have each pledged $25,000 for gambling addiction programs. “These negotiated compacts address several longstanding issues between the state and tribes by cutting through red tape and streamlining regulation of tribal gaming for the benefit of both parties,” Burgum further said of the compacts.


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