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South Dakota Legal Poker

Last Update: April 5, 2015

Online Poker

Believe it or not, South Dakota has a law on its books relating to internet gambling. The statute is aimed at operators, however. It criminalizes “internet betting” by people who are engaged in gambling businesses and the establishment of internet gambling business in South Dakota. What’s interesting is that the statute defines very clearly that if the betting originates or terminates within the state, it falls under the statute – regardless of where the servers are located. These crimes are felonies in South Dakota.

There do not appear to be any statutes aimed at players. However, an expansive reading of the internet gambling statute in tandem with the state’s pre-existing gambling laws (which clearly cover poker) could give rise to at least a colorable argument that internet poker is illegal for South Dakota players. To date, however, there have been no such prosecutions.

Live Poker

Ever heard of the historic city of Deadwood, South Dakota? In the 1980s, Deadwood was the only place in the United States to legally gamble outside of Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. Under South Dakota law, these casinos can offer slots, blackjack and poker (house-banked and player-banked).

As of January 2013, there were 17 tables worth of live poker to be found in Deadwood. The rules governing play are regulated by the South Dakota Commission on Gaming.

Since the 1980s, Native American tribes have moved in on the South Dakota gambling turf. Most are exceptionally small operations with fewer than 1,000 machines and a dozen or two gaming tables. A few offer poker, though not on every night of the week.

Oddly enough, Section 22-25-1 of the South Dakota Codified Laws defines “gambling” vaguely enough as to include home games. There does not appear to be any “bona fide social relationship” or “private residence” exception to the definition. Home games are therefore probably illegal under South Dakota law.

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