To: Members of the House Judiciary Committee
From: Christopher T. Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: House Bill 1054 (Definition of Gambling)
Date: January 15, 2001

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I am Christopher Dodson, the executive director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference. Recognizing that widespread availability of gambling threatens the common good, the North Dakota Catholic Conference has long opposed the expansion of gambling in North Dakota and has long opposed this particular proposal.

House Bill 1054 appears to merely legalize various forms of sports pools. Betting on sporting events, however, is already legal in North Dakota so long as the total amount wagered by an individual does not exceed twenty-five dollars and is conducted on private premises. (N.D.C.C. § 12.1-28-02.) Why then is this bill needed?

This question is particularly relevant when we look at the scope of the bill. By removing wagering on athletic and sporting activities from the definition of gambling, the bill would legalize any such wagering, no matter where it is conducted, no matter what the amount of wager, and no matter who is engaged in the athletic or sporting event. The bill would, therefore, significantly expand -- and remove any restrictions from -- an entire form of gambling.

Some may argue that this type of gambling already occurs with great frequency. That may or may not be true. If it does, most of the activity is probably within the parameters permitted under the current law. In any event, the alleged frequency does not justify its legalization since laws are not meant to be mere reflections of common practice. Moreover, passage of the bill could very well lead to greater activity in this area, amounting to an state sanctioned expansion of gambling. Such an expansion is something the people of North Dakota have repeatedly indicated they do not want.

We urge a Do Not Pass recommendation.