SD House Passes Casino Referendum

South Dakota voters may have a chance to change the state constitution this November to allow roulette, craps and keno in addition to the current slots and card games at commercial and tribal casinos in Deadwood. The House voted 37-30 to approve the bill, which now must pass the Senate.

The South Dakota House of Representatives voted 37-30 to let voters decide in November on a constitutional amendment that would allow Deadwood casinos to offer roulette, craps and keno. Currently casinos offer slots and card games. The bill, HJR 1001, must pass the Senate in order to appear on the ballot. If the amendment is approved, tribal casinos also would be affected.

Bill sponsor state Rep. Timothy Johns said Deadwood needs new types of games to be competitive with other states. He added craps and roulette attract a younger crowd than the current games. State Rep. Fred Rokema said Deadwood has a long history of “exuberant” lifestyle. He noted Deadwood is not unique as a gambling destination and adding the new games would give the town a needed boost.

Opposing the proposed law is state Rep. Jim Bolin who said a constitutional amendment should be evaluated “to the highest level of scrutiny” by legislators before sending it to the voters. “We are approving and endorsing it, and voters are ratifying it. Your vote is a statement of approval or disapproval of the merits of this amendment.”