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

South Dakota is renowned for its captivating history in gambling, a history that only goes back to the late 1800s. The state gained a reputation for clandestine card games during this era, with Deadwood becoming infamous as the central hub for these activities. Deadwood, which was often visited by miners, was incredibly popular for poker games. With the arrival of the 20th century, racing began to be recognized as another form of gambling in the state, with both greyhound and horse racing receiving approval. However, no greyhound racing tracks have been in operation in the state since 2011.

On the other hand, in 1986, residents of Mount Rushmore State decided to make lottery legal. Three years later, video lottery was also approved. However, video lottery lasted only a couple of years, and in 1994 it was deemed a violation of the state constitution. A year later, they created a constitutional amendment, and video lottery was allowed back at taverns and gas stations.

The most popular form of gambling includes casinos. The first casino opened in 1989, which made South Dakota the third state in the country, after Nevada and New Jersey, to legalize casinos. Tribal casinos opened in the 1990s. In 2015, the state introduced roulette and craps as legal games after being approved in 2014.

This article will introduce you to gambling laws and regulations in South Dakota while providing you with a brief overview. Furthermore, it will discuss legal and illegal gambling activities in the state and refer you to the best places to place your bets.

Gambling Laws in South Dakota — The Law Overview

A lot changed for Deadwood from the 19th to the 20th century. When the constitutional amendment that brought Casinos to the state passed, Deadwood was saved from being abandoned. The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act also opened doors to the construction of tribal casinos, which further helped the city regain back its glory.

The law defines gambling as “engaging in gambling in any form with cards, dice, or other implements or devices of any kind wherein anything valuable is wagered upon the outcome.” The definition calls for gambling to be a Class 2 misdemeanor with possible jail time of up to 30 days and fines of a maximum of $500.

If there is money involved, anything but state-sanctioned games of chance is forbidden. Online gambling is illegal in South Dakota, while poker and daily fantasy sports are legal in the state.

Mount Rushmore State operates with more than ten commercial casinos, and there are currently ten tribal casinos as well. There are no racinos in the state, but there are only a couple of horse racing tracks. The state requires a minimum betting age for the lottery to be 18 years, and for other forms of gambling 21 years.

Lottery in South Dakota

The South Dakota lottery is under the state’s jurisdiction, and it’s self-funded. The minimum age requirement to play the lottery is 18, while for video lottery, it is 21. There are different types of games that fall under the term lottery. Players can enjoy Dakota Cash $1game, Lucky for Life (which is available in 23 states), Hot Lotto with jackpots starting from $1,000,000, Powerball with jackpots of $40,000,000, and Mega Millions that became available in SD in 2010.

There are federal taxes for lottery winnings. Any prize higher than $5,000 has a 25% tax that goes to the IRS, and you have to report any winnings higher than $600.

South Dakota Casinos

As mentioned before, the historical Deadwood city is the center of gambling in South Dakota and a hotspot for tourists. Gaming laws are good for casinos, with many available legal games within them. There might not be a lot of less popular games such as keno or bingo. However, games like live poker, slots, blackjack games, craps, roulette, and casino-style poker games are legal in all casinos. A gaming establishment is not allowed to have more than 250 devices, no matter if that includes a combination of video poker machines, tables or slots.

When the first casinos emerged in the Mount Rushmore State, the bet limit was $5. That was raised to $100 in 2000, and $1,000 in 2013. To bet, you have to be at least 21 years old.

Horse and Dog Races

Greyhound and horse races have not enjoyed lots of popularity in South Dakota. They were a part of the regulated gaming industry in the 1940s. Since they did not gather a lot of attention from bettors and spectators, the last greyhound race was held in 2011. There are still some greyhound race tracks in South Dakota, but they are currently not operating.

On the other hand, even though horse races are legal, there are only a few active horse racing tracks in the state. In 2019, the organizations canceled horse racing events in Fort Pierre and Aberdeen due to a lack of funding and unfavorable conditions. There is hope for fans and bettors that both places will hold races in October 2020. Betting on races is regulated by the state, and any violation is punishable by law.

Social Gambling

Social gambling is entirely illegal in the state of South Dakota. Even though the state legalized games like head to head poker and blackjack, no exceptions were made for social gambling. Thus, it is still illegal to hold social gatherings in private residences with an intent to win money. However, there are no recorded cases so far of South Dakota citizens arrested for such activities.

Online Gambling

Online internet gambling is illegal in South Dakota, as stated by law in Chapter 22-25A. Here is how the chapter defines a person that will be punished by law for online gambling “For the purposes of this chapter, the term, person, means an individual, association, partnership, joint venture, corporation, or a director, executive, or officer of an association, partnership, joint venture, or corporation, a political subdivision of this state, or a department, agency, or instrumentality of this state, or any other government, organization, or entity, including an Indian tribe.”

The punishment for online gambling is severe, with a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or a year in prison. However, there are no cases of charging or arresting individuals betting online at home.

Where to Gamble in South Dakota?

With many casinos available in South Dakota, you can take your pick from commercial casinos to Native American casinos. We made a shortlist of the top three casinos to gamble at if you visit the Mount Rushmore State.

Cadillac Jack’s Gaming Resort

Cadillac Jack is in the historic Deadwood. As the name suggests, it is a combination of a casino and a hotel with full-service. The casino floor operates with 22 table games and 240 slot machines that are available non-stop. There are plenty of promotions and events that could bring you luck. You could win $100,000 on Jack scratches or play in annual poker tournaments.

The hotel is one of the best places to stay in the Black Hills. It offers fully renovated luxurious suites. There are some compelling eating experiences at the resort as well. Guests can enjoy Mexican restaurants, steak houses, and a variety of fast foods. The resort also operates a lobby bar, a casino bar, and a blackjack bar.

Old Style Saloon No. 10

The Old Style Saloon No. 10 has a long history and is a frequent tourist destination. A legendary gambler, the Wild Bill Hickok, was shot and killed by Jack McCall during a game of poker in 1876. The assassination took place while Hickok was holding a hand of black aces and eights and the nine of diamonds that became known as a deadman’s hand. The saloon has summer reenactments of the event.

You can play blackjack, poker, and slots at the saloon. There are hold’em tournaments every week, as well as other featured poker games. The slots operate with a ticket-in ticket-out technology with a selection of “Sex and the City,” “John Wayne,” “Blue Moon,” “Ruby Ring” multi-denominational slots, apart from the traditional ones.

Royal River Casino & Hotel

The Royal River Casino and Hotel is located in Flandreau in South Dakota. It opened in 1990 in southeast SD and it’s just a 35-minute drive from Sioux Falls. It operates on a vast land with many modern, renovated rooms and suites. River’s Bend Restaurant is a part of their complex, and they also offer buffets and various snack bars.

On their casino floor, they have the world’s biggest slot machine — the Behemoth Buffalo Stampede. It is 9 feet tall with 5.1 stereo surround sound. Additionally, they offer poker games with a variety of limits from $5 to $100. There are also craps and roulette tables available.


Are casinos legal in South Dakota?

Casinos are legal in South Dakota, with ten tribal casinos and more than ten commercial casinos.

Are daily fantasy sports legal in South Dakota?

Yes, they are. South Dakota’s state regulators said they had no authority to oversee DFS. Thus, there are no law violations, but some operators do not serve in SD. However, you can use FanDuel, DraftKings, Yahoo! and Fantasy Draft.

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

The legal gambling age for the lottery is 18 years, while for other types of gambling, including casinos, it’s 21 years.

Is greyhound betting legal in South Dakota?

Yes, it is. But, there are no active greyhound racing tracks at the moment.