The South Dakota Catholic Conference opposes House Joint Resolution 5006, which seeks to amend the state constitution to permit mobile sports betting throughout the state. The Catholic Church does not understand games of chance to be inherently wrong in every instance. However, very serious concerns arise in the context of modern sports betting, as would be authorized by the passage of HJR 5006.
The availability of instant access to wagering on one’s phone or mobile device—an impulse that can be instantly fulfilled at any time, in any place—has shown itself to be conducive to addiction that increases the harm to individuals, families, and communities. This type of addictive gambling is distinct from that which may be undertaken on a leisure vacation or as part of a low-stakes fundraiser. Rather, online sports betting risks becoming a habitual way of life that leads to problem gambling, a form of enslavement. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2413).
Persons trapped in the negative financial, emotional, or physical consequences of gambling addiction often feel shame and hopelessness, leading some 20 percent of those diagnosed with gambling addiction disorder to attempt suicide. For these reasons, we believe addictive forms of gambling, as would be expanded under HJR 5006, should not be enshrined in the state constitution.