North Dakota is one of the least populated states in the union. But with hundreds of charitable gambling operations, several mid-sized tribal casinos, pari-mutuel wagering at two racetracks, and the availability of multi-state lotteries, the state can claim one of the highest concentrations of gaming establishments per capita in the entire United States.
North Dakota has had legalized charitable gaming since 1977. Charitable gaming in the state is regulated by a five-member commission, an arm of the state attorney general’s office. It grants licenses to nonprofit organizations permitting bingo, raffles, pull-tabs, punchboards, sports pools, blackjack, poker, Calcutta pools, and paddlewheels. There are as many as 800 small charitable casino operations running across the state, but in accordance with the law, none offer slot machines.
Net proceeds must be used for educational, charitable, patriotic, fraternal, or religious purposes. Only veteran, charitable, educational, religious, fraternal, civic and service, public safety or public-spirited organizations are granted licenses. Many of these organizations have partnered with bars, restaurants, and other service organizations across the state to run the charitable casino operations.
The state signed its first tribal gaming compacts in the early 1990s. Further compacts were negotiated in 1999 and 2013. Construction of tribal casinos soon followed. There are now five mid-sized tribal casinos across the state and a half-dozen smaller operations that offer table games, poker, bingo, and thousands of slot machines.
The Dakota Magic Casino in Hankinson has a 120-room hotel, 1,500-seat convention center, and more than 900 reel and video slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, and poker. The 4 Bears Casino & Lodge has a lodge and an RV park. The casino offers blackjack, craps, poker, video poker, keno, and more than 700 slot machines.
The Prairie Knights Casino in Fort Yates has a 200-room lodge with a 129-foot water slide. The casino has blackjack, craps, three-card poker, ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em, plus more than 700 slot machines, video poker and video keno games. The Sky Dancer Casino and Resort in Belcourt was recently expanded to include a restaurant and entertainment pavilion. There are now more than 700 of the latest slot machines on the property as well.
The Spirit Lake Casino in Devils Lake features a full-service marina, log cabins, an RV park, and a hotel on the south shores of the lake. The casino has craps, blackjack, three-card poker, and more than 700 reel and video slot machines.
Several other smaller tribal casino operations are littered around North Dakota, most with 250 slot machines or less on the property.
North Dakota has had legalized pari-mutuel gambling since 1990, and there are currently two horse racing facilities operating: Chippewa Downs Racetrack and North Dakota Horse Park. There are no slot machines at either property.
The state established the North Dakota Lottery in 2004, but it is unique in that it only participates in multi-state lotteries and no actual in-state lottery exists. North Dakota takes part in five five multi-state lottery games, including Powerball, Mega Millions, Wild Card 2, Hot Lotto, and 2by2.
Land-based slots options
|Property||Location||Number of Slots|
|4 Bears Casino & Lodge||New Town||700|
|Spirit Lake Casino & Resort||Devils Lake||700|
|Prairie Knights Casino and Resort||Fort Yates||700|
|Sky Dancer Hotel & Casino||Belcourt||700|
|Sky Dancer Mini Casino||Belcourt||64|
|The Dakota Magic Casino||Hankinson||1,000|
|Grand Treasure Casino||Trenton||250|
Online gambling options
Online casinos are not legal in North Dakota.
Residents and visitors may be able to access any number of offshore online casinos from inside the state. But know that gambling is against the law outside of the race tracks, charitable gaming operations, tribal casinos, and lotteries. Plus, transferring money on and off these sites is against federal law.
Online slots are not legal in the state, and North Dakota lawmakers have shown little interest in changing that. However, the state was one of the first to consider legal and regulated online poker.
A bill was introduced in 2005 to license and regulate online poker in North Dakota, but was voted down after the US Department of Justice advised local lawmakers online gaming was against federal law.
Online gambling in North Dakota now consists only of the ability to bet on horse races and purchase lottery subscriptions online. The issue of legal and regulated online slots or casinos does not appear on any current government agenda.
Social casino site options
Of course, people can legally play at social casino sites in North Dakota. Since there’s no real money involved, residents and visitors are free to play on social casino sites all they want.
Social casino games are a multi-billion dollar market. The most popular options include app-based games for Android and iOS. Players can download to a mobile device or Facebook-based apps, which are operated through the social media site.
These include casino-style games developed by industry leaders, such as Zynga, Activision Blizzard, Korean Nexon, and Supercell. Social gaming revenues reached more than $1.5 in the United States in 2016. However, Asia remains the largest market with $2.2 billion in revenue in 2015 and more than 500 million users reported.
The 4 Bears Casino & Lodge
With 120,000 square feet of gaming space, the 4 Bears Casino & Lodge is the largest tribal casino in North Dakota. Built in the Four Bears Village at New Town and owned and operated by the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nations, the property features a lodge with 220 recently renovated rooms overlooking Lake Sakakawea. There is also a full-service RV park and larger accommodations available at the property’s lakeside cabins.
Dining options include the Bison Room Steakhouse, which offers fine dining and features North Dakota prime beef, fresh seafood, and made-from-scratch desserts with a view of the lake.
The casino features blackjack, craps, and roulette with limits from $3 to $100. There is also a high-stakes blackjack area with a maximum bet of $250. Plus, the 4 Bears Casino & Lodge has more than 700 slot machines from $0.01 to $25. There is also a smoking parlor, and the Pocket Aces Lounge features bar top slot machines.
4 Bears Casino & Lodge has a free Players Club where players can earn points redeemable for food, hotel rooms, and other merchandise. Card holders can also take advantage of special benefits and discounts at the property.
State legal environment
|Permitted/Offered?||Notes & Restrictions|
|Casinos||Yes||Tribal and charitable only.|
|Online Gambling||No||Considered online poker bill in 2005.|
|Lottery||Yes||Established in 2004. Multi-state only.|
|Charitable or House-Based Gambling||Yes||Charity casino licenses available.|
|Minimum Gambling Age||21|