Port: Gambling in North Dakota has become a cut-throat, billion-dollar industry with little oversight


MINOT, N.D. — If you were to ask the average citizen if gambling were legal in North Dakota, you’d probably be told that it’s not. At least not outside of the Indian reservations, some bingo halls, and a few sleepy blackjack tables in the corner of the local bar.

Maybe they’d remember to throw the state lottery into the mix, too.

Overall, though, they’d maintain that gambling is mostly verboten here. And they’d be wrong.

Gambling in North Dakota has become a nearly $2 billion industry, and that’s just if we’re looking at charitable gaming. According to estimated numbers for fiscal year 2022, obtained from the Gaming Division of the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office, gross proceeds from charitable gaming came in at over $1.7 billion.

It’s a recent development, driven in no small part by the legalization of electronic pull-tab machines, which, though different in some fundamental ways, have a user experience that is not all that distinct from slot machines. In 2022, electronic pull-tab machines accounted for almost 90% of the gross proceeds from charitable gambling.

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