BISMARCK — The North Dakota Senate has nixed a resolution that would have allowed voters to decide whether sports betting should be legal in the state.

The upper chamber voted down House Resolution 3032 by just a single vote on Monday, March 22. The measure narrowly failed on Friday, but an absent senator revived the bill before it met a final death. The House overwhelmingly approved the legislation last month.

If the Senate had passed the resolution, residents would have seen a question about legalizing sports gambling on the November 2022 ballot. More than 20 other states allow gambling on sports.

Grand Forks Republican Sen. Scott Meyer said he supported the measure because it would have allowed North Dakota to regulate and tax an industry that already operates illegally in the state.

Fellow Grand Forks Republican Sen. Ray Holmberg noted that lawmakers repeatedly refused to allow participation in a multi-state lottery two decades ago, so voters took the matter upon themselves and passed an initiated ballot measure. He said the Legislature should put the question of sports gambling to the people so history doesn't repeat itself.

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Opponents of the bill, like West Fargo Republican Sen. David Clemens, said the state shouldn't be providing another vice to residents who already struggle with addiction issues. Clemens noted that if voters want sports betting to be legal, they should pass a ballot measure without the Legislature hand-delivering a referendum.

The North Dakota narrowly voted down House Concurrent Resolution on Monday, March 22, 2021. Screenshot via North Dakota Legislature
The North Dakota narrowly voted down House Concurrent Resolution on Monday, March 22, 2021. Screenshot via North Dakota Legislature