The State of North Dakota is examining the option of expanding its casino landscape. Lawmakers have introduced legislation that would essentially allow the state to build six Vegas-style casinos, in addition to the existing 10 tribal owned casinos. The legislation requires the rewording of the State Constitution and residents would have to vote on the changes in the upcoming November ballots.
The wording of the new legislation begins with a description of the law: “A concurrent resolution to create and enact a new section to article XI of the Constitution of North Dakota, relating to authorization for up to six state-owned casinos in the state which are to be established as destination-oriented attractions; and to amend and reenact section 25 of article XI of the Constitution of North Dakota, relating to exceptions to the prohibition on games of chance.”
The legislation’s Statement of Intent reads: “This measure would authorize the legislative assembly to provide by law for the authorization, operation, and funding of up to six state-owned and operated casinos in the state which would be established as destination-oriented attractions and which would be regulated by a casino gaming commission.”
To protect the interests of the tribal casinos, the legislation will not allow any of the six new casinos to be built within 40 miles from an existing tribal facility (nor within five miles of a city with a population exceeding 5,000). Despite this, the local tribes are extremely opposed to the potential changes to the North Dakota Constitution. Earlier this month, Mark Fox, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, said that adding more casinos would “upset the equilibrium” and saturate North Dakota’s casino gaming market.
There are already five existing poker rooms in North Dakota, offering state poker players around 24 poker tables to choose from between all of them. In addition, the ten tribal casinos offer around 2,000 slot machines on their casino floors. If the legislation passes successfully, it will see the creation of the North Dakota Casino Gaming Commission to oversee the state’s new gaming interests. At present, the tribal casinos in North Dakota are regulated by the Federal Government.
An earlier version of the proposal stated that the six new casinos had to be owned AND operated by the state. However, changes were recently made and now allow the casinos to be privately operated, although they will still be owned and regulated by North Dakota.