Casinos were introduced to South Dakota in 1989 through a constitutional amendment, which was designed to save the municipality of Deadwood from turning into a ghost town. This decision allowed the local Native American tribes to build their own casinos, now legal due to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. That same year, the legislature also permitted local businesses to install VLTs under the supervision of South Dakota Lottery. This decision was later confirmed in a referendum, but the local gambling industry was not allowed to expand any further.
South Dakota law defines unlawful gambling as “engaging in gambling in any form with cards, dice, or other implements or devices of any kind wherein anything valuable is wagered upon the outcome” and classifies it as a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment for up to 30 days. Engaging in betting over the internet is also prohibited, as is maintaining a gambling place or equipment. Only state-sanctioned games of chance are allowed when there is money involved.
Most gambling-related matters are covered by South Dakota Codified Laws, Chapters 21-6, 22-5, and 42-7B. The minimum gambling age is 18 for lottery games and 21 for VLTs, casino games, and horse race betting.
South Dakota Codified Laws
RECOVERY OF GAMBLING LOSSES
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; provided that such action shall have been commenced within six months after the date of such loss.
21-6-2. Action by state’s attorney for benefit of spouse, minor children or public schools. In case the losing party fails to bring an action under § 21-6-1 within the time allowed by said section, it shall be the duty of the state’s attorney, at any time within six years from the date of the loss, to bring action to recover such thing, or the value thereof, for the benefit of the spouse or minor children of such party, or, in case there be no spouse or minor children, for the benefit of the public schools.
CHAPTER 22-25 GAMBLING AND LOTTERIES
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, or who keeps any establishment, place, equipment, or apparatus for such gambling or any agents or employees for such purpose, or any person who knowingly lets any establishment, structure, place, equipment, or apparatus for such gambling is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
22-25-4, 22-25-5. Repealed.
22-25-6 Unlawful betting on animal races as common nuisance–Petty offense. All racing or trials of speed between horses or other animals for any bet, stake, or reward, except such as is specifically authorized by law is a common nuisance. A violation of this section is a petty offense.
22-25-7 to 22-25-12. Repealed.
22-25-13 Keeping slot machines–Free play machines excepted–Misdemeanor– Manufacture not prohibited. No person may have in his possession, custody, or under his control or permit to be kept in any place under his possession or control, any slot machine or device. A slot machine or device is any machine upon the action of which anything of value is staked and which is operated by placing therein or thereon any coins, checks, slugs, balls, chips, tokens, or other articles, or in any other manner as a result of such operation anything of value is won or lost by the operation of such machine, when the result of such operation is dependent upon chance. This section does not extend to coin-operated nonpayout pin tables and arcade amusements, with free play features. A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
This section does not prohibit the manufacture, or any act appurtenant to the manufacture, of slot machines or devices in this state for distribution and sale.
22-25-14 Slot machine and premises public nuisance–Manufacture not prohibited. All slot machines capable of being used for gambling and places where they are kept or operated together with all property of any kind kept or used in connection with operation of the same, are hereby declared to be public nuisances.
This section does not prohibit the manufacture, or any act appurtenant to the manufacture, of slot machines, or devices in this state for distribution and sale.
22-25-14.1 Antique slot machine operated for nongambling purposes as defense– Preservation and return of antique machines. It is a defense to any prosecution under §§ 22-25-13 and 22-25-14 if the defendant shows that the slot machine is an antique slot machine and was not operated for gambling purposes while in the defendant’s possession. For the purposes of this section, a slot machine shall be conclusively presumed an antique slot machine if it is twenty-five or more years old. Whenever such defense is offered, no slot machine seized from any defendant may be destroyed or otherwise altered until after a final court determination including review upon appeal, if any, that such defense is not applicable. If the defense is applicable, any such slot machine shall be returned pursuant to provisions of law providing for the return of property. It is the purpose of this section to protect the collection and restoration of antique slot machines not presently utilized for gambling purposes because of their esthetic interest and importance in South Dakota history.
22-25-15 to 22-25-18. Repealed.
22-25-19, 22-25-20. Repealed.
Sections 22-25-23 through 22-25-51 relate to South Dakota’s charitable gambling enabling statutes. Click , which are presented in full text at South Dakota Charitable Gaming.
CHAPTER 22-25A INTERNET GAMBLING
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. Bet or wager does not include the purchase, sale, or trade of securities or commodities under state or federal law.
22-25A-2 Gambling business defined. For the purposes of this chapter, the term, gambling business, means a business that is conducted at a gambling establishment or involves the placing, receiving, or making of bets or wagers or offers to engage in the placing, receiving, or making of bets or wagers.
22-25A-3 Internet defined. For the purposes of this chapter, the term, internet, means the international computer network of both federal and nonfederal interoperable packet switched data networks.
22-25A-4 Interactive computer service defined. For the purposes of this chapter, the term, interactive computer service, means a service, system, or network or access software provider that uses public communication infrastructure or operates to provide or enable computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including a service or system that provides access to the internet.
22-25A-5 Person defined. For the purposes of this chapter, the term, person, means an individual, association, partnership, joint venture, corporation, or a director, executive, or officer of an association, partnership, joint venture, or corporation, a political subdivision of this state, or a department, agency, or instrumentality of this state, or any other government, organization, or entity, including an Indian tribe.
22-25A-6 State defined. For the purposes of this chapter, the term, state, means this state, including a territory, possession, county, and land owned, occupied, or held in trust for an Indian tribe, whether or not federally recognized as an Indian tribe.
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. 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-10 Violation a felony. Any person who violates § 22-25A-7 or § 22-25A-8 is guilty of a felony as follows:
(1) For a first offense, a Class 6 felony;
(2) For a second or subsequent offense, a Class 5 felony.
22-25A-11 Prosecution of violations. The attorney general or the state’s attorney for the county in which a violation under this chapter occurred, may prosecute violations of this chapter.
22-25A-12 Notification of illegal web site and penalties. The attorney general may notify a gambling business that its web site is illegal in this state and list the penalties for violating this section.
22-25A-13 Preliminary restraining order available as condition of bond. The attorney general or state’s attorney may seek, and the court may enter, a preliminary restraining order enjoining a person from transmitting bets or wagers or information to assist in the placing of bets or wagers as a condition of bond pending trial or other disposition of the case.
22-25A-14 Permanent injunction available against guilty party. If a person is found guilty or pleads guilty to a charge brought under this chapter, the attorney general or states attorney may seek, and the court may enter, a permanent injunction against the person or gambling business enjoining the person or gambling business from transmitting bets or wagers or information to assist in the placing of bets or wagers.
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, who are engaged in conduct in furtherance of activity expressly authorized, licensed, and regulated under the provisions of chapter 42-7A or to the South Dakota Commission on Gaming and its licensees, who are engaged in conduct in furtherance of activity expressly authorized, licensed, and regulated under the provisions of chapters 42-7 and 42-7B.
LEGALIZED LIMITED GAMING
South Dakota has adopted laws legalizing the operation of limited stakes card games and slot machines. Links to the text of the relevant statute sections are available at: Legalized Limited South Dakota Gaming.