Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

October 1996


Published in Great Plains Research 6:2 (Fall 1996). Copyright © 1996 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


The referendum and initiative processes were used six times between 1982 and 1994 to address the issue of gaming in South Dakota. Four of the six votes resulted in pro-gaming outcomes. This study examines how and why voters in the state 50 sixty-six counties varied geographically in their levels of gaming support over time. Five different ways of regionalizing the state are advanced as possible explanations, and then analyzed using maps, analysis of variance tests, and eta correlation coefficients. The popular East River-West River cultural-political divide is found to serve as the best explanation of the geographical distribution of gaming support for only one of the six votes. The other five were better explained by regions delineated by Hogan in the Geography of South Dakota, or by voting regions derived inductively through principal components analysis in the present study.