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North Dakota renews gambling compacts with Indian tribes

Prairie Knights in North Dakota

Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota has announced the renewal of the state’s gambling compacts with the five Indian tribes in the state. The renewal will see the tribes continue to offer gambling services on their reservations, including iGaming and online sports betting, for the next 10 years.

North Dakota has had a long-standing agreement with the tribes in the state which exclusively permits them to run casinos within their reservations. The five tribes in the state own over 11 casinos which generate roughly $250 million each year. Though the state permits parimutuel wagering on simulcast races, the lottery and charitable gambling, commercial casinos are not allowed in the state as it is restricted to the Indian tribes and backed by compacts. The compacts the state has with the tribes is set to expire early next year, hence the negotiation for renewal.

Meanwhile, during negotiations for renewal, the tribes appealed to the governor to grant them exclusive rights to host iGaming and sports betting sites within the state, adding that the servers will be located on the reservation. However, Gov. Burgum declined their proposal, saying that a “clear legal path does not exist for the governor to grant such a broad expansion of gaming”, and that allowing such will be going against the laws of the state. As it stands, North Dakota might still be a long way off from expanding its gambling ecosystem to go beyond tribal gaming.

Though Gov. Burgum rejected their proposal to take mobile sports betting and iGaming out of the reservations, he assented to their request to lower the gambling age within the territories from 21 to 19. Other changes made to the new compacts include clearing up of regulatory and definition issues, ending duplication of regulation and so on.

“We are deeply grateful to the tribal chairs and their representatives for their collaboration throughout these many months of negotiations, and we look forward to continuing the mutually beneficial gaming partnership between the state and the sovereign tribal nations with whom we share geography,” Burgum said.

Representatives of the five tribes that were present at the signing of the compacts expressed their enthusiasm for the renewal and promised to donate $25,000 each to be used towards gambling addiction programs.

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