By JAMES MacPHERSON Associated Press
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Gov. Doug Burgum announced Friday that he has signed agreements with North Dakota's American Indian tribes that lowers the legal gambling age from 21 to 19 at tribal-owned casinos and allows gamblers on reservations to use credit or debit cards to place bets.
The tribal-state agreements known as compacts also allow online sports betting using mobile devices within reservation boundaries but not outside of them.
Burgum last month rejected a plea by the state's five tribes to give them exclusive rights to host internet gambling and sports betting outside the reservation because it isn't allowed under state law.
The second-term Republican governor said in a statement that tribal representatives signed off on the compacts Friday after months of meetings.
"We are deeply grateful to the tribal chairs and their representatives for their collaboration throughout these many months of negotiations, and we look forward to continuing the mutually beneficial gaming partnership between the state and the sovereign tribal nations with whom we share geography," Burgum's statement said.
Cynthia Monteau, a lawyer and executive director of the United Tribes Gaming Association, did not immediately return telephone calls Friday seeking comment. The association consists of leaders from each of the state's five tribes.
The compacts replace those that were set to expire at the end of this year. The new compacts are in place for 10 years.
The tribes initially asked for exclusive rights to host internet gambling and sports betting in the state, where gamblers throughout North Dakota could use mobile devices to place bets that would be funneled through computer servers on tribal land.
Burgum had said "a clear legal path does not exist for the governor to grant such a broad expansion of gaming."
North Dakota's five tribes wanted the exclusive rights, arguing that their casinos, which typically are among their biggest employers and help fund social programs on the reservations, have been hurt by the explosion of Las Vegas-style pull tab machines that were legalized in 2017 to benefit charities. North Dakotans poured almost $1.75 billion into the machines in fiscal 2022.
Under the new agreements, the state's five tribes have each pledged $25,000 for gambling addiction programs.