Minnesota One Step Closer to Legalized Sports Betting

Minnesota has long struggled to introduce proper sports betting regulations and implement legalized wagering. Despite the efforts of the Minnesota House, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to proceed with any significant reforms. However, with Democrats about to step in, the Land of 10,000 Lakes may finally get a chance to legalize sports betting.

The State Faced Several Failed Initiatives

Minnesota’s journey towards regulated sports wagering began in 2019 with a senate bill proposing that tribal casinos and racetracks be allowed to offer retail and limited mobile sports betting services. However, the suggestion met fierce resistance from the Indian Gaming Association amidst concerns that it would impact their profits and eventually fell to the wayside.

2021 marked another significant push towards legalized sports betting with the introduction of five new sports betting bills. None of them gained any traction, but the tribes finally conceded to the idea by the end of the year. Rep. Zack Stephenson and the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association expressed public support for a legalized wagering industry, clearing another significant milestone.

A new House Bill passing with approval through the State House in May 2022 sparked new hope for sports betting fans in the state. House Bill 778 initially envisions 11 online gaming licenses, exempting bets placed in person on a tribal property from any tax. Meanwhile, any bets placed on tribal land will have to meet a 10% tax levy. However, the Republican-controlled Senate blocked the initiative, leaving it dead in the water.

The Way for New Legislation Is Now Clear

Efforts to legalize sports wagering in Minnesota may finally take off in 2023 as the Democrats are about to take control of the Senate, House, and governor’s office, giving them free rein to implement reforms. According to DFL Senator Karla Bigham, new sports betting legislation is a distinct possibility in 2023 despite expected difficulties.

There are huge opponents to this topic on both sides of the aisle… no matter who’s in charge.

Senator Karla Bigham

Bigham envisions a final draft that significantly favors the tribes, giving them control over most of the business with allowances for some cooperation with third parties. Mobile sports betting and venues outside tribal lands could also be an option if placed under the control of tribal casinos. 

The state’s population of 5.5 million roughly equals that of Colorado, meaning that legalized sports wagering could net yearly revenues exceeding $25 million, bringing in significant tax income. Minnesota still has a long way to go, but with all relevant parties currently in favor of the reforms, it seems that 2023 may finally be the year of sports betting for Minnesota.

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