Deadwood is aiming to get a small legal bet estimated at $3 billion during March Madness

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SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – For the first time in South Dakota, people can legally bet on one of the biggest sporting events of the year – the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

In the United States, a regulated online gaming resource forecasts $2.5 billion to $3 billion wagered in legal sports betting over the 67 games over two and a half weeks.

While sports betting at Deadwood hasn’t surpassed $1 million since it began in September, Mike Rodman said he’s excited to see what the numbers look like in March after witnessing a busy sports book Thursday morning.

“It was full. Lots of enthusiasm so we’re really excited to see what’s going to happen this weekend,” said Rodman, Executive Director of the Deadwood Gaming Association. “It’s going to be a great weekend.

Sports betting is currently legal in 30 states and Washington DC. In South Dakota, Deadwood sports betting is limited to in-person betting and you cannot bet on college teams in the states like South Dakota State.

“This is typically a slower time of year for us,” Rodman said. “This sports betting opportunity was really a shot in the arm for Deadwood. We are excited to see what it brings.”

Deadwood’s biggest sports betting month was January 2022, when more than $835,000 was wagered, including $493,000 on NFL playoff games and $148,000 on NCAA men’s basketball games. State law only allows a maximum sports bet of $1,000.

Rodman said February’s final betting numbers, which included Super Bowl bets, aren’t ready, but he called it “an incredible day.”

“Sports betting continues to gain momentum and grow in Deadwood,” Rodman said.

Six casinos in Deadwood now operate sportsbooks and several more will offer them in the future, Rodman said.

In the six months since sports betting began, there has been a learning curve, according to Rodman. In December the South Dakota Gambling Commission heard three cases of bets being accepted over the $1,000 limit and one case of illegal “futures” bets on World Series baseball games.

Susan Christian, executive secretary of the South Dakota Gaming Commission, called sports betting a “big undertaking” and urged casino operators to take it seriously, educate themselves, review the process and monitor it at all times.

Despite the few setbacks, Rodman said more and more properties in Deadwood are excited about the future of sports betting.

Along with this weekend’s March Madness sportsbook, Deadwood will be hosting St. Patrick’s Day events, including a Saturday lunchtime parade.

“It’s that special time when people really like following their favorite teams,” Rodman said. “Now they can legally bet on their favorite team, and that’s why they came to Deadwood.”

A legislative proposal to allow South Dakota voters to decide whether sports betting could be expanded statewide for mobile and electronic devices, SJR 502, fell through the South Dakota legislature this year.

Proponents of legal nationwide sports betting point out that money is being made in neighboring states of Wyoming and Iowa, which offer the service.

The Deadwood Gaming Association took no position on the proposed expansion.

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