The 48-43 vote came after proponents pleaded with fellow legislators to provide the state’s horse racing industry with another revenue source, warning it faced a dire future without the legislation. House Bill 1443 now moves to the Senate.
The House narrowly killed a similar bill two years ago.
The bill would allow people to use electronic devices at simulcast facilities to place wagers on horse races that have taken place in the past, with identifying information hidden. Gamblers would see “past performance information” before they make selections, however, and betting terminals would display a “recording or digital simulation or recreation of a portion of the race.”
The bill overcame concerns about the effect on charitable gaming organizations and gambling addiction.
“Are we going to create more gamblers or are we going to decrease available funds for other charities?” said Rep. Bernie Satrom, R-Jamestown.
The bill’s primary sponsor, Montpelier Republican Rep. Craig Headland, said the charities’ financial concerns are unwarranted while disputing arguments that the bill would lead to the construction of “large casinos.”
“We’re talking about a limited number of locations statewide that are geared toward horse racing enthusiasts,” he said.
The bill would require a portion of wagers to be sent to funds supporting horse breeders and owners, supplementing purses offered at racetracks, upgrading racetracks and promoting horse racing in North Dakota. It would also set aside funding for a gambling disorder prevention and treatment fund.
A fiscal note attached to the bill said estimated revenues were “undeterminable at this time.”
Mary Ann Durick, chairwoman of the state Racing Commission, welcomed Friday’s vote and was hopeful it could pass the Senate.