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Don't create a monopoly in North Dakota for online gambling

The tribes are not required to pay any gaming taxes to the state.

JSSP Letter to Editor
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By Mike Motschenbacher, Bismarck
In response to a Bismarck Tribune article on Oct. 9 titled “North Dakota tribes want exclusive rights on online gambling,” the North Dakota Gaming Alliance would like to add some thoughts and statistics we believe are necessary for the public to know. For purposes of this letter, the North Dakota Gaming Alliance is looking beyond the apparent illegality of online gambling being considered.

Although we all want North Dakota tribes to succeed and prosper, online gambling is an expansion of gambling in our state. Online gambling is way more than just sports betting. This would include games such as slots, poker, roulette, keno and much more.

Currently, online gambling is illegal in North Dakota but the tribes do have the ability to conduct sports betting at the tribal casinos. During the 2021 legislative session, House Concurrent Resolution 3032 would have put the issue on the November 2021 ballot for the voters to decide whether sports betting should be legalized beyond the North Dakota Native American casinos. It passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate by one vote. Also, during the 2021 session, HB 1234 failed to pass in the Senate. This bill would have provided the regulations should HCR 3032 had passed and would have given final authority for charities around the state to conduct sports wagering in bars much like blackjack and pull tabs are currently conducted.

Under current law, charities pay 12% of their adjusted gross proceeds to the state in taxes. The tribes are not required to pay any gaming taxes to the state. It is projected that North Dakota charitable gaming will raise approximately $43 million in gaming taxes during the 2021-2023 biennium. In fiscal year 2022, approximately $73 million in eligible uses from charitable gaming dollars have gone to support day cares, swimming pools, youth activities, medications, services for people with disabilities, education, meals for seniors, wildlife projects, veterans programs and many more wonderful causes within our communities. The charitable gaming industry also employs over 2,000 people in North Dakota.

Taking away the ability for North Dakota charities to continue to provide these services to North Dakota citizens by creating a monopoly for the benefit of one group is not good policy for our state, especially since the tribes are not required to pay any taxes to North Dakota should this issue be approved by the governor. The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. Let’s not play favorites.
Motschenbacher is executive director of the North Dakota Gaming Alliance.

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