Minnesota Sports Betting Still Faces Obstacles After House Passes Bill
David Caraviello | 3 mins
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In an effort to keep pace with neighboring states, sports betting in Minnesota took its biggest step yet in a positive direction when the state’s House approved a measure that would allow sports wagering at both tribal casinos and online.
Movement toward legal sports betting began in earnest in the North Star State in December, when the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association announced it was willing to consider sports betting under the right framework, after years of opposing the idea. On Thursday, in the capital of St. Paul, the House voted 70-57 to approve a bill backed by the Indian Gaming group.
Minnesota is feeling the pressure of legal sports betting measures adopted by neighboring states, which in turn has led bettors and tax dollars to flow across the border. To the south, Iowa offers full mobile sports betting. To the west, North and South Dakota allow sports betting at retail facilities. And to the east, Wisconsin has allowed some tribal groups to offer sports betting--including the St. Croix Chippewa Indians, located just across the Minnesota border.
Retail Wagers Would Not Be Taxed
“The pressure has really been building for us to do something here in Minnesota,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Zack Stephenson, told Twin Cities TV station WCCO. “No one from Minnesota should have to go to Iowa to have fun. That’s kind of the motto here. We should have the ability to do this safely, legally, and with guardrails here in Minnesota.”
The bill passed Thursday by the House would issue certain tribes master sports betting licenses good for 20 years, which would then allow those tribes to offer retail sports betting in their casinos and mobile betting through partnerships with platforms like FanDuel and BetMGM. The tax rate would be 10% on mobile wagering, while bets placed at tribal retail locations would not be taxed.
The minimum sports betting age would be 21, and registration would be allowed over mobile betting apps. Tax revenue from legal sports betting would be split between addiction treatment measures and funds run by the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission that would promote integrity and support youth sports in areas with high rates of juvenile crime.
Bill Facing a May 23 Deadline
But the bill’s future is murky even with MIGA backing and House passage, given that rival sports betting measures in the state Senate call for allowing wagers at horse racing tracks as well as tribal casinos. That impasse may prove too large to overcome before the state’s legislative session ends on May 23.
Failure to find consensus before then would likely make it impossible for Minnesota to have legal sports betting in place before the start of the 2022 NFL season, which was one aim of the House bill.
“If the stakeholders can come together and try to find some common ground where there are opportunities available at the tribal casinos as well as the tracks, and perhaps if there’s something we can do to help benefit our charities, I think agreement could still get done this session,” state Sen. Jeremy Miller told reporters. “But we’re running out of time for that to happen.”