There’s a lot of gambling going on in North Dakota for a state that theoretically has a blanket ban on most forms of betting. This is because, over the years, the local lawmakers have poked holes in the prohibition by introducing several exceptions to the general regulations.
These exceptions include charitable gambling, which was introduced in 1977, tribal gambling and pari-mutuel betting, which became available in the 1990s, and multi-state lottery games, which were introduced in 2004. North Dakota was also one of the first states to consider an internet poker bill. This bill, championed by Rep. James Kasper, was approved by North Dakota House following a close vote but didn’t make it past the Senate, which voted overwhelmingly against it.
Table of Contents
North Dakota Gambling Law Summary
North Dakota’s prohibition on gambling is rooted in Article XI of its constitution. Section 25 of this Article states that “the legislative assembly shall not authorize any game of chance, lottery, or gift enterprises, under any pretense, or for any purpose whatever”, leaving an exception for multi-state lottery games and charitable gambling.
North Dakota Century Code defines gambling as “risking any money, credit, deposit, or other thing of value for gain, contingent, wholly or partially, upon lot, chance, the operation of gambling apparatus, or the happening or outcome of an event, including an election or sporting event, over which the person taking the risk has no control.” This law doesn’t apply to contests of skill, and thus popular DFS sites don’t have North Dakota on their lists of restricted states. Do note, however, that this clause doesn’t apply to internet poker.
Illegal gambling constitutes an infraction if the total amount of money wagered exceeds $25. Wagering more than $500 constitutes a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $3,000.
All laws about gambling can be found in North Dakota Century Code 12.1-28-01 et seq. and 53.06.1-01 et seq. The minimum gambling age is 21.
Online Gambling in North Dakota
Gambling in North Dakota is regulated under Section 12 of the local state code. Participating in unlicensed games is illegal, and the penalty depends on the amount of money involved. If you wager less than $500, you’re going to be charged with an infraction. Placing a more substantial bet is considered a Class A misdemeanor. As is often the case, the state regulations don’t refer specifically to online gambling, so it’s tough to determine whether these rules extend to online gambling or not. The state hasn’t even tried prosecuting someone for playing at an offshore site, so it’s impossible to say how the court would interpret such a case.
North Dakota Casinos
North Dakota businesses are prohibited from operating commercial casinos. However, thanks to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, the state was able to negotiate several gaming compacts in the 1990s, which were updated in 2013. As a result, the local tribes were able to build five full-scale casino resorts and several smaller gambling establishments across the entire state. The biggest casinos are located in Hankinson (The Dakota Magic Casino), Belcourt (Sky Dancer Hotel & Casino), Fort Yates (Prairie Knights Casino and Resort), Devils Lake (Spirit Lake Casino & Resort), and New Town (4 Bears Casino & Lodge). Also, charity organizations are allowed to offer blackjack games at local bars and restaurants. The maximum allowed bet for such games is $25.
Playing casino games over the internet is prohibited and constitutes a serious misdemeanor.
North Dakota Poker
All the big North Dakota casinos operate live poker rooms. Most of them run 5-7 tables, so the local live poker scene revolves mostly around NL Hold ’em cash games and weekly or bi-weekly medium-stakes tournaments.
As mentioned above, North Dakota considered an online poker bill in 2005, but the ND Senate rejected it in a 44-3 vote. As it stands, playing poker over the internet is illegal and constitutes a serious misdemeanor.
North Dakota Sports Betting
North Dakota Senate has voted down a bill that would legalize sports betting in March 2019. The proposed bill lost by a 38-7 vote. Consequently, North Dakota residents can only bet on horse races. On-track betting is available at the North Dakota Horse Park and Chippewa Downs. Off-track betting is offered by several facilities located around the state.
Also, North Dakota residents can engage in online horse race betting via legal US-facing platforms, such as TVG and TwinSpires. Betting on traditional sports via offshore sites is illegal and is classified as a serious misdemeanor.
North Dakota Daily Fantasy Sports
North Dakota lawmakers haven’t tackled the issue of fantasy sports yet and aren’t likely to do so in the foreseeable future. When asked about DFS contests in 2015, State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem stated that “if it’s a game of chance, it’s not likely legal, and if it’s a game of skill, then it would likely be legal.” Since then, the Attorney General Office has issued no official statements on this matter.
Major DFS platforms, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, have no qualms about offering their services to North Dakota residents but keep in mind that the legal status of paid DFS contests remains unclear.
North Dakota Lotteries
North Dakota Lottery tickets can be purchased in hundreds of retails shops located across the entire state. Because of the local regulations, only multi-state lotto games are available. The full list includes Powerball, Lucky for Life, Mega Millions, Lotto America, and 2BY2. Unlike many other state lotteries, the NDL doesn’t sell any scratch-cards or intrastate lottery tickets and doesn’t host keno games.
North Dakota Bingo
Bingo games are available in many venues operated by charity organizations, such as Big Top Bingo, Dakota Skies, or Grain Hopper. Playing over the internet is prohibited and is considered a serious misdemeanor.
North Dakota Online Gambling FAQ
What types of gambling are available in ND?
North Dakota doesn’t have any racetracks, but aside from that, the local gambling aficionados are in a pretty good spot. The state allows pari-mutuel betting on simulcast races and has several Indian-operated casinos, which are allowed to offer table games, poker, and slots. Charitable gambling is also available. Like most US states, North Dakota has a state-run lottery but doesn’t have any regulated iGaming sites.
What laws cover online gambling in North Dakota?
Real money gaming is regulated by Section 12 of the North Dakota code. Although the laws mentioned above don’t deal with internet gaming, it may be argued by the authorities that most of the general regulations extend to internet games. Fortunately, this possibility has proven to be purely theoretical, as no players have been prosecuted so far.
Is real money online gambling legal in North Dakota?
The legal status of online gambling is somewhat ambiguous due to outdated regulations, but it’d be next to impossible for an individual player to be charged with a felony or even misdemeanor for playing on an offshore site. Consequently, most industry experts agree that online gambling is perfectly safe for North Dakota residents.
Which offshore gambling sites accept North Dakota residents?
North Dakota residents are pretty much free to play on any US-friendly site they like, but we recommend sticking to reputable operators like Bovada, as they guarantee that you’ll be able to gamble in a safe environment.
What are the most popular banking options supported by North Dakota -facing sites?
Contrary to popular belief, depositing to an offshore site is easy – a simple Visa/MasterCard credit or debit card is more than enough to start playing real money games. Please note that domestic-only cards aren’t supported by offshore operators, which means that your card has to be cleared for international payments. Cashing out is also very simple, as most sites allow you to get your winnings using a wire transfer.
Does North Dakota offer any intrastate online gambling?
No, the existing regulations combined with the high level of control the authorities want to have over the local gambling operations makes it impossible for North Dakota companies to go online with any real money gambling products.
Is it likely for North Dakota to regulate online gambling?
North Dakota doesn’t seem to be interested in changing its current gambling regulations. Changing this attitude would probably require new regulations on the federal level.