Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Advances

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Minnesota Vikings fans celebrate in the fourth quarter of the game against the Washington Commanders at FedExField on November 06, 2022 in Landover, Maryland. Todd Olszewski/Getty Images/AFP

Minnesota sports betting fans have a reason to be hopeful in 2024, as a bill that would legalize and regulate the activity is making progress in the state legislature. The bill, House File 2000, was approved by the Human Services Finance Committee on February 23rd and is now headed to the State and Local Government Committee for further consideration.

Let’s delve further into the latest updates on the bill and see what the future might hold for top-rated online sportsooks.

Odds and Ends

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Zack Stephenson, would allow sports betting at tribal casinos, horse racing tracks and online platforms partnered with either of them. The bill would also create a Sports Wagering Commission to oversee the industry and allocate the tax revenue from sports betting to various programs and funds.

Stephenson, a Democrat-Farmer-Labor (DFL) member, has been pushing for sports betting legalization in Minnesota for the past two years but faced opposition from the state’s tribes and the Republican-controlled Senate. However, he said he is optimistic that a compromise can be reached this session, as the tribes and the tracks have been involved in the negotiations and have expressed some support for the bill.

“I think we have a good chance of getting this done this year,” Stephenson said. “We have a lot of stakeholders who are interested in this issue, and we have a lot of common ground. We all want to protect the integrity of sports, we all want to provide consumer protection, and we all want to generate some revenue for the state and the tribes.”

Not All Minnesota Lawmakers on Board

Some lawmakers expressed their concerns about the potential harms of gambling expansion.

Republican Representative Dave Baker of Willmar asked Stephenson, “Why is it so important to bring this to the mobile devices?” He pointed out that phones and gambling opportunities would be constantly available to everyone, which could increase the risk of addiction and social problems.

Representative Kristin Bahner also expressed worries about making sports betting seem common and acceptable to kids and young people. A 2022 survey indicated that 6,000 high school students are showing problematic gambling behavior.

Stephenson emphasized that Minnesotans are already gambling on their phones unlawfully, and HF 2000 aims to turn an unauthorized activity into a supervised, managed and safeguarded one.

Sports Betting Could Generate Millions in Minnesota

According to a fiscal note attached to the bill, Minnesota sports betting could generate $40 million in tax revenue in the first year of operation and $50 million in the following years.

The bill would allocate 6% of the revenue to the tribal nations, 4% to the problem gambling fund, 2% to the youth sports fund and the rest to the general fund.

Minnesota is one of the few states in the Midwest that has not legalized sports betting yet, despite having a strong sports culture and fan base. Neighboring states like Iowa, South Dakota and Illinois have already launched their sports betting markets, and Wisconsin is also considering a bill this session.

Stephenson said he hopes Minnesota can catch up with the rest of the region and offer a safe and regulated option for sports bettors in the state.

“Sports betting is happening in Minnesota right now, but it’s happening illegally and unsafely,” he said. “We have an opportunity to bring it out of the shadows, create jobs, support our tribal and racing industries, and benefit our state budget. I think it’s time we get this done.”

Minnesota Pro Sports Team Support the Bill

Another key factor that boosts the bill’s chances is the support from the state’s six professional sports teams, who have allied with the tribes. In a letter to the lawmakers, the teams stated that they supported the bill because it would:

  • Grant tribal sports betting exclusivity.
  • Empower all tribes to offer statewide mobile sports betting.
  • Protect the integrity of sports and the interests of the teams.

The letter also expressed concerns that other sports betting proposals might give licenses to non-tribal entities that are not affiliated with the teams, which could create unfair competition and harm the sports industry. The teams that signed the letter are:

  • Minnesota Lynx (WNBA)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)
  • Minnesota Twins (MLB)
  • Minnesota United (MLS)
  • Minnesota Vikings (NFL)
  • Minnesota Wild (NHL)

So, it appears the stars are aligning in The North Star State, and it may not be long before Minnesotans can stop wishing on a star for sports betting to become a reality.

We’ll keep you posted.