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Dakota Nation Sportsbook prepares to open North Dakota’s ‘best venue’ for sports fans and bettors

With both the Super Bowl and the NCAA Tournament on the horizon, Dakota Nation Sportsbook manager Jeff Hunter expects "an interesting next six weeks" at the Red River Valley's only sportsbook.

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Jeff Hunter, sportsbook manager for the Dakota Nation Sportsbook, stands in front of a 35-foot by 12-foot video board Wednesday, Feb. 9, inside the Dakota Magic Casino in Hankinson, N.D.
Chris Flynn / The Forum
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HANKINSON, N.D. — The Dakota Nation Sportsbook is set to open soon inside the Dakota Magic Casino in Hankinson.

The casino began accepting sports bets through digital kiosks in December, but sportsbook manager Jeff Hunter told InForum he hopes to have the accompanying bar and seating area up and running in time for the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 13.

The focal point of the sportsbook is a 35-by-12-foot video board, which Hunter said can show up to 13 different sporting events. Additionally, the sportsbook area features 17 more wall-mounted televisions. Prior to the book’s opening Wednesday, Feb. 9, the video wall played a replay of a men’s college basketball game, while other screens showed Olympic events and sports talk programs.

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The Dakota Nation Sportsbook inside the Dakota Magic Casino features a 35-foot by 12-foot video screen, which can showcase up to 13 sporting events. Above, a ticker rolls with betting information for upcoming matchups.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

The sleek and modern room seats 99 people, Hunter said. That includes seating at lounge chairs, stadium seats and barstools as well as high- and low-top tables. Additionally, the sportsbook offers a full-service bar and food service.

With the exception of horse races, bettors can wager on any professional sporting event, including the Olympics. Also available are college sporting events, including for both the North Dakota State Bison and North Dakota Fighting Hawks. “Pretty much anything you can bet in a Las Vegas sports book, you can bet here,” Hunter noted.

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A sure bet

The sportsbook has found success right off the bat, Hunter said. “It’s been pretty good pace-wise,” he remarked. “The volume we’ve handled at the kiosks, just having kiosks with no place to view the games, the amount of interest we’ve had in sports betting in the area has been as expected.”

As a busy sports season looms with both Sunday’s Super Bowl and the upcoming NCAA Tournament, Hunter expects the sportsbook will only continue to pick up steam.

“As word spread and with Sunday NFL football, we were starting to get a lot better handle and starting to see new faces. It’s definitely starting to gain momentum,” he said. “With the Super Bowl and March Madness right around the corner, it should be an interesting next six weeks.”

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Bettors can place their wagers either at one of the sportsbook’s touch-screen, self-service kiosks or with a cashier. For the Super Bowl, Hunter said the sportsbook offers standard game lines as well as 185 prop bets, ranging from which team will score first, to who will be named the Most Valuable Player and even which color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach .

According to the American Gaming Association , 31.4 million Americans are expected to place some sort of wager on the Super Bowl, either through traditional sports betting or casually among friends. The association estimated bets would total $7.61 billion, up 35% from 2021.

Though the Los Angeles Rams were 4-point favorites as of Wednesday, Hunter noted that most of the Dakota Nation Sportsbook’s bettors have picked the upstart Cincinnati Bengals to win. “Believe it or not, everybody’s liking the Bengals,” he said. “Everybody is (betting) on the darling ‘dog.”

'Excitement, cheering and hooting and hollering'

With minimum bets set at $5 and maximum bets at $1,000, Hunter emphasized that the Dakota Nation Sportsbook welcomes both novice and professional bettors.

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But he said some bettors are still learning about sports betting. For those who’ve never wagered before, Hunter called on patrons to simply ask for help or attend one of the sports betting seminars he is hoping to offer in the coming months. “A lot of people are intimidated,” he said. “Come in, ask me or my staff and we’ll walk you through the process.”

The sportsbook will mirror the casino’s hours, meaning it’ll stay open until 2 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday and be open 24/7 on Fridays and Saturdays.

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Bettors can utilize self-service, touch-screen kiosks to place wagers on sporting events at the Dakota Nation Sportsbook inside the Dakota Magic Casino.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Hunter said the environment will be one of the first of its kind in the Red River Valley, not only for betting but also for watching sports. “I’m going to venture to say it’s probably the best venue in North Dakota to watch a sporting event,” he said.

“I think the atmosphere in here will rival any sportsbook in the area as far as excitement, cheering and hooting and hollering,” he continued. “I think the people here in North Dakota will really enjoy the setting we’ve created here.”

Above all, Hunter invited bettors new and old to enjoy a sporting event and perhaps even leave with a heavier wallet in the process. “Come in, make a few bets on the games or your favorite team and enjoy the games. Hopefully you’ll walk out with a few more bucks than you came in with,” he concluded. “Most importantly, don’t bet more than you can afford.”

Readers can reach InForum reporter Thomas Evanella at tevanella@forumcomm.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over three years, primarily reporting on business news. He's also the host of the InForum Business Beat podcast, which can be streamed at InForum.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Reach him at tevanella@forumcomm.com or by calling 701-241-5518. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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