North Dakota Casinos & Gambling

If you do not know much about North Dakota, you are probably not alone. The state is a mystery to most people simply because it is not very populated and is not one of the nation’s top tourist destinations. With all that being said, the state is home to plenty of gambling options and has been for quite some time. The way in which casinos exist in North Dakota is not entirely different from states like Florida, and that explains the somewhat restrictive state laws that are skirted by casino operators.

To put it simply, the state of North Dakota has fairly strict laws when it comes to the type of gambling that is available. This may lead you to believe that there really aren’t many options for gambling in the state, but that is simply not true. The following will elaborate more on the casino industry in the state, including what outsiders need to know before heading there.

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North Dakota Casinos

Dakota Magic Casino

Spirit Lake Casino

Four Bears Casino

Skydancer Casino

Prairie Knights Casino and Resort

Gambling in North Dakota

North Dakota gives you access to all the popular gambling options available in the United States. The local casinos are all tribal-owned and offer slots as well as classic table games. Pari-mutuel horse race betting is available at the North Dakota Horse Park.

The state has some charity gambling events and operates its own lottery, but North Dakota legislators haven’t introduced any iGaming-friendly legislation. As a result, the local iGaming enthusiasts simply stick to playing on offshore sites.

Casinos in North Dakota

When you think of North Dakota, you probably picture farms (they constitute 90% of all ND land), low temperatures, and very few people. Although those things are all true, you might be surprised to learn that for such a small and isolated state, North Dakota boasts quite a vibrant gambling scene.

There are six tribal casinos operating with Class III gaming licenses in the state:

Charitable carve-out laws that allow non-profit organizations to fundraise through specific types of gambling are typically limited to bingo games and raffles. Those laws, which have been around since 1977, include pull tabs, punchboards, sports pools, blackjack, and poker. State law only prohibits the use of slot machines.

Many charitable organizations have partnered with bars and restaurants in the state, and there are now around 900 of these gaming establishments in operation.

In 2017, a bill was proposed to allow the state to build and operate six commercial casinos. It was soundly defeated in the legislature, and another effort to expand Class III gaming is not expected anytime soon.

You must be 21 to gamble at a North Dakota casino.

If you want to play a game other than bingo at a charitable gaming location, you must also be 21.

Tribal/Native American Casinos

Currently, the biggest and best option for casino-style gambling in North Dakota is that which takes place on tribal lands. The tribal gaming industry came about as a result of a Federal ruling which basically states that Native American tribes can offer their own casino games so long as the state in which they are located allows it. So this means that even though North Dakota does not allow private operators to run casinos, they do allow tribal operators.

Luckily, the games that you can play at tribal casinos in North Dakota are identical to those offered on the Las Vegas Strip. There are table games like blackjack and poker right alongside seemingly endless rows of slot games. All told, tribal gaming in North Dakota is a thriving and growing industry.

Charitable Casinos

In North Dakota, there was an amendment made to state law that allowed for the existence of charitable gambling. As the name suggests, charitable casinos are those that offer games where the majority of revenue is distributed to charities and other social benefit programs. Though these casinos may not feature the wide expanse of games you will find at the state’s tribal casinos, there is still plenty to keep even the most demanding gambler entertained.

North Dakota Sportsbooks & Sports betting

The Supreme Court’s ruling in May of 2018 allowed states to make their own decisions on legal sports betting. North Dakota is trying to determine what this means for the state.

The main question involves the North Dakota tribes, who signed a compact with the state in 2013 that allows for a “sportsbook except as prohibited by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.” This act is now unconstitutional.

So far, none of the tribes have pushed to open a sportsbook. As for the rest of the state, lawmakers are expected to take up the idea in 2019. Whether it garners enough support from voters remains to be seen.

Fantasy Sports Gambling

In 2015, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said, “If daily fantasy sports is a game of chance, it’s not likely legal. And if it’s a game of skill, then it would likely be legal.”

Ever since that statement, the state has been quiet on the issue of DFS. There are no laws that address the legality of the contests, so all DFS companies currently operate in the state under the belief that it is a game of skill and therefore legal.

Animal racing

Horse racing is legal in North Dakota, and the state houses two racecourses where you can see live racing:

Off-track betting is also legal in the state, and the North Dakota Racing Commission lists the following legal brick-and-mortar and internet OTB sites:

Physical Locations:

  • Lucky’s Bar and Lounge (Bismarck)
  • SideStreet Grille and Pub (Fargo)
  • Rumor’s (Grand Forks)
  • Sky Dancer Casino (Belcourt)

Internet Sites:

You must be at least 18 to place a pari-mutuel bet.

There is no live greyhound racing in North Dakota.

North Dakota Poker Games

Along with the three tribal casinos that host poker rooms, there are many charitable gaming locations that offer poker in North Dakota. Because of the wide variety of frills in North Dakota poker rooms, you can expect a generous game selection. Texas Hold’em, the many variations of stud, Omaha, and dealer’s choice are all readily available.

As per North Dakota’s charitable gaming laws, charitable games carry a maximum bet of $1. Because these games never become high-stakes, the atmosphere tends to be friendly and social.

You must be 21 to play poker in North Dakota.

Online poker rooms are illegal.

Lottery

North Dakota runs a lottery, but because of a quirk in the law not seen in most other states, tickets can only be sold for multi-state jackpots. The lottery does not offer North Dakota-exclusive games.

The multi-state games available  in North Dakota are:

  • 2by2
  • Lucky for Life
  • Lotto America
  • Mega Millions
  • Powerball

Despite the ND lottery’s singular focus on multi-jurisdictional gaming, the state offers a mobile app that allows players to purchase tickets online as well as scan physical tickets to find out if they’re winners.

You must be at least 18 to play.

Bingo

You can play bingo at two of the tribal casinos – Sky Dancer Hotel & Casino and the Spirit Lake Casino & Resort – as well as hundreds of other locations operated by non-profit charitable license holders.

How easy is it to find bingo in North Dakota? There are 95 cities in the state with a population of at least 500 people, and more than 150 cities in North Dakota host regular bingo games.

Unless accompanied by an adult, you must be at least 18 to play.

North Dakota Casino History

Like most states that saw settlers move through, casino-style games and other games of chance have been in North Dakota as long as history has been recorded. When the state really took shape and began drafting laws, it was quickly established that all styles of gambling would be outlawed.

This remained the case for quite some time, until the year 1976 brought about some radical changes. In that year, a charitable gambling carve-out was initiated. When all said and done, state law was amended so that certain bingo-style games and other games of chance would be legal so long as a majority of the proceeds went to charitable organizations and state services for veterans, the elderly, and the disabled.

Then in 1992, on the heels of a Federal Act which allowed for Native American tribes to open casinos, the state negotiated with 5 Native tribes and eventually granted casino licensure to them. Since then, the same 5 tribes have operated the same 5 casinos across the state. Though there have been plenty of lawmakers who think that the tribes are overstepping the terms of the initial agreements, these tribes and their casinos are still able to offer a full range of casino games. At the present moment in time there is not much of a push to allow for commercial casinos, and that lack of push can likely be explained by the state’s tiny population. Without many people, and without a large tourism industry, adding more casinos—especially commercial casinos—is something that would do well to overwhelm the market more than anything else. Right now, the state’s 5 tribal casino are more than enough to satisfy the state’s casino needs.