South Dakota voters will cast ballots Tuesday whether to amend the state constitution to allow gambling on sports in Deadwood. We recommend voting no.
The constitution currently authorizes the legislature to allow roulette, keno, craps, limited card games, and slot machines. Federal law states that any gaming authorized by the legislature for deadwood is also allowed at reservation tribal casinos.
This constitutional amendment authorizes the legislature to also include wagering on sporting events as a type of gaming allowed in Deadwood, which would then be allowed at tribal casinos.
Sports gambling is not new, probably dating back to the beginning of organized sporting events. A number of laws prohibiting gambling on sports were established about a century ago, beginning with the famous "Black Sox" scandal of 1919, when gamblers paid Chicago White Sox players to throw the World Series. Some observers were convinced major league baseball was doomed unless it separated gambling from the sport. Major league baseball still prohibits its players, managers and owners from gambling on baseball.
A college basketball point-shaving scandal in 1951 revolved around City College of New York and other schools. It had long-lasting effects on not only the individuals involved, but the schools themselves. Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to felony charges in connection with a betting scandal. He provided information to others about what team they should bet on in games that he officiated.
The influence of gamblers and organized crime in professional and amateur sports has been considered immoral, and in some cases, dangerous.
We don't think it's suddenly a good idea. But casinos and governments who sanction them sure would like a cut of the action.
We don't believe that having sports betting in South Dakota has redeeming value. Can you imagine legalized betting on the DSU Trojans or MHS Bulldogs? Would there ever be contact between a local gambler and a local athlete that could lead to a "deal"?
We recognize that other states are offering sports gambling and Deadwood feels the pressure to join in. But we feel voting no is the best thing for South Dakota.
-- Jon M. Hunter