The Minnesota sports betting effort is officially dead for yet another year. That’s after state lawmakers in Saint Paul failed to find mutually agreeable terms to expand gambling.
Gambling in Minnesota is limited to the state-run lottery and tribal casinos owned and operated by the state’s 11 federally recognized Native American groups. Lawmakers in the state Senate and House of Representatives were in unison that Minnesota should join the more than 30 other states in authorizing legal, regulated gambling on sports. But chamber leaders differed on certain conditions.
Both the Senate and House sports betting bills that gained favor in their respective chambers sought to allow the gaming tribes to bring sports betting to their casinos. The statutes also would have allowed the tribes to partner with third-party online sportsbook providers to take bets remotely across the state.
But the bills differed with the Senate’s wishes to allow Canterbury Park and Running Aces — the state’s two horse racetracks — to incorporate on-site sports betting and run an online skin. The potential expansion of commercial gaming was a deal-breaker for the House, which faced much pressure from the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA).
Political Process ‘Screwed Up’
State Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), who coauthored the House bill, said the Minnesota sports betting inaction is another example of divisiveness in today’s political arena. He suggested that the lawmaking process is broken.
There are too many legislators focused on short term political considerations instead of thinking about what is best for the whole state,” Garofalo told the Duluth News Tribune. “The sports gambling issue is symbolic of how screwed up the lawmaking process is in Minnesota.”
The sports betting bills had bipartisan support, but the horse racetrack component resulted in deadlock. With the Minnesota Legislature now adjourned for 2022, legal sports betting will remain on hold for at least another year.
It’s now been four years since the US Supreme Court gave sports gambling powers back to the states. In Minnesota, the American Gaming Association (AGA) says the offshore, unregulated market will continue to thrive.
The AGA, which lobbies the federal government as well as states regarding commercial and tribal gaming matters, says regulated sports betting protects consumers and creates tax benefits for states, tribes, and local communities.
Neighbors to Benefit
Minnesota is surrounded by states that have legal and operational sports betting. Its northern neighbor of Ontario does, too. For now, Minnesotans interested in placing a legal bet on sports will need to travel outside of their state.
That won’t sit well with most, as an April poll conducted by KSTP/SurveyUSA found that 64% of respondents believe sports betting should be made legal. Only 17% answered that they oppose expanded gambling, while 19% said they are unsure.
While tax rates on gross sports betting revenue varied between the Senate and House versions, legislative fiscal projections forecast that legal sports betting in Minnesota would generate around $5 million to $7 million annually for the state.