North Dakota Casinos, Gambling, and Law Regulations: An Overview

North Dakota may be the most rural and least populated state in the US, but its 760,000 residents have access to a broader range of gambling options than many bigger states.

Since 1977, one could legally take part in Charitable Games in North Dakota. Soon after, horse racing joined the gambling stage. The first Tribal casino started its operation in 1992, followed by the North Dakota lottery in 2002.

There was even an attempt to legalize online gambling. An internet poker bill got approved by North Dakota House. Unfortunately, it couldn’t pass by the Senate.

This text should clarify all you need to know about gambling in North Dakota. Go through it to find out all about the gambling laws and legal forms of gambling in this state.

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Gambling Laws in North Dakota — The Law Overview

The North Dakota Constitution has a clear definition of gambling. Article XI of the Peace Garden State’s Constitution prohibits gambling almost entirely.

The Criminal Code of North Dakota says that gambling means: “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.”

The code thus stated that gambling is betting on any activity in which the outcome depends on a chance to any extent. There is also a line in the Criminal Code that talks about illegal gambling consequences. In section 12.1-28-02 (3), North Dakota authorities wrote that illegal gambling is subject to a class C felony.

As the original gambling definition dashed all hopes for its legislation, particular exceptions had to be made.

The first exception on the list is related to charitable gambling. Section 53-06.1 of North Dakota law allows some forms of legal poker only if it goes hand in hand with state regulations.

Another exception allows tribal casinos to operate and offer games like poker and blackjack. Also, North Dakota differs from other states because it doesn’t frown upon home poker games. Section 12.1-28-02(1) defines home poker games as legal if an individual bet doesn’t go over $25.

After the state defined all these exceptions, there has been a lot of gaming action. To help you stay on the safe side, we listed all the officially legal forms of gambling below.

What Forms of Gambling Are Allowed in North Dakota?

Even though North Dakota initially wanted to ban all things related to gambling, it ended up going in the opposite direction. The state competes with top-contenders for the title of the highest concentration of gaming institutions per capita in the country.

North Dakota legalized tons of charitable gambling establishments and a few tribal casinos. It allows pari-mutuel horse racing wagering at two racetracks, together with multi-state lotteries.

Charitable Gaming

North Dakota legalized charitable gaming in 1977. Non-profit organizations that want to offer poker, blackjack, bingo, raffles, pull-tabs, punchboards, Calcutta and sports pools, and paddlewheels have to obtain a valid license. The only thing you won’t find here are slot machines.

There are more than 800 charitable gaming establishments across North Dakota. Plenty of them joined forces with restaurants and bars. All the profit they make has to cover the state’s educational, charitable, patriotic, fraternal, or religious needs.

Tribal Casinos

Casinos are allowed to operate in North Dakota on Native American reservations. Along with the standard casino table games, they also own slot machines. However, every game offered by a casino has a different betting limit.

  • Poker — $50
  • Blackjack — $250
  • Roulette — $60
  • Slots — $25
  • Craps — $60

Tribal casinos in North Dakota have a slight advantage over charitable gaming establishments in terms of revenue. While charitable gaming shares its profit with the state, casinos are spared the trouble. The tribes running the casinos only pay the fees set by the regulatory body and keep the rest.

Pari-Mutuel Betting

Pari-mutuel betting has been legal in North Dakota since 1987. The two racetracks people talk about are the North Dakota Horse Park and Chippewa Downs Racetrack. Both of them offer live racing, as well as off-track betting.

There was a story that the state officials plan to open ten racinos. This proposition aims at returning the horse racing industry its former glory. SB 2221 already passed the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee. The only thing remaining is to get enough votes and a signature from the Governor.


The state lottery is usually one of the first gambling forms every state accepts. When it comes to North Dakota, the state lottery was the last thing that became legal. Another fun fact is that scratch-off cards cannot be bought in the Peace Garden State.

The only lottery available in North Dakota is the interstate lottery. The drawings include games such as Powerball and Mega Millions. The intrastate lottery is not a part of the North Dakota lottery system.

Home Games

It is interesting that North Dakota incorporated home games in the books. Statute 12.1-28-02 says that it is illegal to: “engage in gambling on private premises where the total amount wagered by an individual player exceeds twenty-five dollars per individual hand, game, or event.”

In other words, if you organize a poker night at your house, make sure there’s no bet higher than $25, and you have nothing to be afraid of.

Is Online Gambling Allowed in North Dakota?

North Dakota tried to legalize online gambling but to no avail. The only sort of online gambling is off-track betting on horse races.

However, similarly to many other US states, North Dakota does not address online gambling directly in the Criminal Code. This leaves space for offshore gambling operators to offer their service to the residents of North Dakota.

If you are wondering whether or not you can get in trouble for gambling online, we must mention that North Dakota is in the grey area regarding the issue. No one explicitly says that online gambling is legal, but it’s not considered illegal either.

Finally, it’s up to you as a player to make the right decision. We will just tell you there have been no cases of someone being arrested for gambling online from North Dakota.

Where to Gamble in North Dakota?

North Dakota does offer a substantial amount of gambling establishments. You will find three of them described below, but feel free to check out other options as well.

4 Bears Casino & Lodge

4 Bears Casino & Lodge is built near Lake Sakakawea for a reason. Apart from the all-time favorite casino games it offers, you will be able to spend time on some water activities, too. It features yacht charters, water park, and many other attractions that will leave you breathless.

Accommodation the casino offers is something you won’t find everywhere. If you want to stay, choose a lodge, lakeside cabin, or stay in a tent or vehicle at the RV park. This doesn’t mean you will have to cook if you don’t want to, as the establishment has several dining places. The address of 4 Bears Casino and Lodge is 202 Frontage Rd, New Town, ND 58763, and it’s open all the time for players’ convenience.

The Dakota Magic Casino & Hotel

If you are into slots, the Dakota Magic Casino is a great place to visit anytime you like, because it is open 24 hours. You will find close to a thousand slot machines in this establishment. There are other games as well, including poker, blackjack, roulette, and craps. Once you are done with gaming, you can choose one of 120 rooms to relax. The complex won’t leave you hungry either, as it offers plenty of choices to fill our empty stomach. The cherry on the top of this gambling cake is the 27-hole golf course that will leave you breathless. The Dakota Magic Casino & Hotel can be found at 16849 102nd St SE, Hankinson, ND 58041.

North Dakota Horse Park

The North Dakota Horse Park is reserved for the animal lovers who like to place a bet from time to time. It is located at 5180 19th Ave N, Fargo, ND 58102, and you can place a bet only during the time of a race. As the races are not held every day, make sure to check when is the best time to visit this wonderful race track.


Are casinos legal in North Dakota?

There are no commercial casinos in North Dakota, but you can find a number of Tribal ones.

Is online gambling legal in North Dakota?

Online gambling is not explicitly mentioned in the Criminal Code of North Dakota. The only official form of online gambling allowed in the state is the off-track betting on horse races.

What games can you gamble on in North Dakota?

In North Dakota, the legal forms of gambling are charitable gaming, tribal casinos, pari-mutuel betting, the state lottery, and home games.

What is the legal gambling age for players in North Dakota?

The minimum gambling age in North Dakota is 18 for lotteries and bingo. For casinos and off-track betting, the age limit is 21.

Who regulates legal forms of gambling in North Dakota?

The regulatory body for gambling in the Peace Garden State is North Dakota Gaming Authority.