North Dakota 2017-09-14T05:48:28+00:00

Gambling in North Dakota

Dakota Thunder Giant Buffalo
(Credit: Photo courtesy of Ghosts of North Dakota)
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North Dakota

US State, abbreviated “ND

(Not regulated)

  • Population0.76 million
  • Legal Online Poker Age21
  • Legal Poker Room Age21
  • Capital: Bismarck
  • GovernorDoug Burgum (R)

Is Gambling in North Dakota Legal?

As one of the smallest populous states, the gambling laws are surprisingly open-minded, especially compared to its neighbours. The residents, as well as visitors from out of state, are able to freely indulge in a rather diverse charity gambling market. However, when it comes to commercial gambling, most are strictly outlawed.

North Dakota Gambling Laws

Generally speaking, citizens of the Peace Garden State abide by relatively relaxed gambling laws. However, this was not always the case.

Compared to others, this Flickertail State was late to the party when it comes to legalizing any form of gambling. The first type of legal gambling came in the form of bingo, which was part of a charitable gambling carve-out that was put into place in 1976. Prior to this, there was a blanket ban on all games in which chance was a factor of the outcome.

Since then, the State continued to offer its citizens more and more forms of charity gambling, but at the same time, restricted commercial gambling.

So that was a brief insight into the State’s history. Now on to the legal side. What does the state consider to be gambling? Well, according to 12.1-28-01 of the constitution, it says”

“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.

Basically, this means that unless the State’s legislators has explicitly defined a gambling game as legal, it is outlawed.

But the same section then goes on to list some exceptions:

a. Lawful contests of skill, speed, strength, or endurance in which awards are made only to entrants or to the owners of entries;
b. Lawful business transactions, or other acts or transactions now or hereafter expressly authorized by law;
or c. Use of gaming equipment and devices that may not otherwise be lawful in the state when the equipment or devices are used by any institution under the control of the state board of higher education which awards degrees of bachelor’s or higher for the purpose of conducting scientific research in a controlled environment on the campus of that institution.

The main takeaway from these exemptions is that unfortunately, skill-based games such as poker is not exempted.

Options for Gambling in North Dakota

Casino: Only tribal casinos exists in this state, but as there are many tribes, theres also many tribal casinos. All of these offer class 3 games, including table games, poker, and slots.

Live Poker: There are poker rooms at the tribal casinos, and residents can also participate at home-games as these are carved out under state law. There are restrictions in regards to home games, and that is the maximum betting limit must not exceed $25.

Horse Racing: These are offered under the pari-mutuel betting system.

Lottery: North Dakota citizens are able to buy tickets for the State lottery.

Charitable games: As part of the charitable gambling carve-out, residents can participate in bingo and other forms of charitable gambling events, as long as they are individually licensed. Infact, North Dakota is considered one of the biggest charity-gambling States relative to its population size. The main beneficiaries of these charitable gambling events were education and veterans organizations.

In terms of punishments, the toughest charges are aimed specifically at the people behind the operation of illegal gambling activities, and not the ones playing them. The owners, operators, or anyone benefitting from the games can face a felony charge.

Legal Gambling Age in North Dakota

Players must be aged 18 or over to participate in Bingo, Lottery, or Horse Race Betting. The minimum age for poker and casino is 21.

North Dakota Online Gambling

To discuss about the legality of online gambling in the state of North Dakota, there are some key laws that we need to pay attention to.

Most importantly, what is considered an illegal gambling device? This is stated in Section 12.1-28-01 of the State’s constitution:

“Gambling apparatus ” means any device, machine, paraphernalia, or equipment that is used or usable in the playing phases of any gambling activity, whether that activity consists of gambling between persons, or gambling by a person involving the playing of a machine.

According to these words, it’s safe to assume that the use of any device for gambling online can be considered an illegal gambling device.

All things considered, no one has ever been prosecuted for reasons of online gambling. The likelihood of you getting into legal trouble for gambling online are relatively slim.

Online Poker In North Dakota

As explained earlier, strictly speaking, any device used for gambling can be considered a gambling device. Therefore, regardless whether you’re playing online poker on a computer, a phone, or a tablet, all these devices could potentially be classified as illegal gambling devices.

So even though there are no specific laws that prohibits online gambling, it’s possible that the device used, rather than the act of gambling online, could lead you into legal trouble. However, the actual possibility of that ever happening is extremely low.

The Future of Gambling in North Dakota

There’s no real evidence to suggest that this state will regulate online poker in the near future. The state is simply not part of the conversation when it comes to talks of regulating online poker. If for some strange reasons it does regulate online poker, chances are it’ll be one of the last states to do so.

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Keep in Mind

We are not legal professionals so be sure to educate yourself on responsible gambling and consult a lawyer where necessary in applicable matters, using this page only as an opinionated guide.