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Minnesota is one of a few Midwest states that have yet to seriously discuss or propose sports betting legislation for the state. As a result, football-crazy Minnesotans are traveling to Iowa to wager on the Vikings and their favorite college team, the Gophers.
A couple of weekends ago, Rep. Pat Garofalo led a contingent of legislators from Minnesota to a local Iowa casino to see how popular sports betting has become to traveling residents from their own state.
The trip was Rep. Garofalo’s idea as he continues to push support for the creation of sports betting legislation that would bring sports wagering to the Gopher State.
Rep. Garofalo, a Republican, is fighting an uphill battle as members of his own party are anti-betting and the Democrats control the house in Minnesota.
Despite the long odds, Garofalo believes that watching money flow from Minnesota to the pockets of Iowa businesses might be enough to jumpstart talks of introducing sports betting legislation.
“Iowa is well positioned due to Minnesota’s lack of action. And you’re going to see a steady increase in Minnesotans choosing to spend their entertainment dollars in Iowa as opposed to Minnesota,” Garofalo told the StarTribune.
The draw for legislators to introduce sports betting legislation usually follows one of two narratives.
The first is that by bringing sports betting home, you keep entertainment dollars flowing through local economies while generating tax revenue for the state.
The other narrative is that by legalizing betting in your state, you strike a blow to illegal bookmaking.
For Rep. Garofalo, the loss of tax revenue to Minnesota’s economy seems to be the path he hopes to use to persuade his fellow lawmakers.
During Iowa’s first 17 days of sports betting, casinos and sportsbooks took in more than $8.5 million in bets with $2.1 million in winnings. That figure translated to roughly $146,000 in taxes, but Iowa has some of the lowest tax rates among early adopting states.
Opponents of sports betting in Minnesota believe that the illegal industry isn’t large enough of an issue to combat and families in the state would suffer if sports betting finds its way to the Gopher State.
One of the vocal opponents, Rep. Josh Heintzeman, a fellow Republican, believes that by bringing sports gambling to Minnesota, legislators would be putting an undue burden on families where members become addicted.
“My concern is accessibility,” said Rep. Heintzeman. “It’s one more challenge families face”
Regardless of the opposition, influential figures in Garopalo’s party such as Republican lobbyist Brian McDaniel, believes that public support will eventually win legislators over.
“Like marijuana, it’s gonna happen. It’s just a matter of when,” McDaniel told the StarTribune.
Even though sports betting in Minnesota might be years away, you can bet that Rep. Garofalo will continue to host trips to Iowa for lawmakers to see how popular sports betting is among Minnesotans that want to bet on the Vikings.
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