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Last Tuesday, Minnesota House Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Zack Stephenson announced that he would be the lead sponsor of a sports betting bill, the type of legislation that many MN residents have been calling for while others, including the state’s Native tribes, have been firmly against.
Rep. Stephenson is convinced that Gopher State citizens should have the right to make those types of wagers without fearing legal repercussions, telling the media last week:
Minnesotans should be able to engage in legal sports betting right here in Minnesota.
But to make that happen, the state’s Native population must also be on board, and though so far they have not been in favor of such a market, there are signs that their hard opposition is beginning to soften.
At the beginning of this year, the executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) was John McCarthy, an anti-sports betting leader who, at the time, claimed MIGA members “remain opposed to any and all expansion of off-reservation gambling.”
That firm stance against the issue may be shifting, however, according to MIGA’s new director, Andy Platto, who last Thursday told reporters that state-tribal governments “have been examining the various ways sports betting has been implemented across the country and its impacts on tribal communities.”
Though that’s certainly no endorsement, it could be a sign that MIGA’s attitude toward Minnesota sports betting is evolving, a factor that Rep. Stephenson knows he must consider.
I think it is safe to say that I wouldn’t be standing before you today if I didn’t think there was a way to get a policy together that works for a broad segment of Minnesota.
But none of that can happen until the next legislative session.
The Minnesota Legislature is currently adjourned until January 31, 2022, so that gives Rep. Stephenson well over two and a half months to prepare and write up the sports betting bill he plans to sponsor.
In the past few years, other MN sports betting bills have been offered and rejected, including one in 2018 by Rep. Pat Garofalo that would have allowed on-site sports betting in tribal casinos only while blocking mobile betting, plus last session there was another bill offered by Sen. Karla Bigham that included mobile betting but only at tribal casinos.
For Stephenson’s bill to earn a hearing next year, he will have to consider all the retail vs mobile angles and more, as will Sen. Roger Chamberlain, now chair of the Senate Education Committee, who also said he would be introducing a sports betting bill in the upcoming session, telling the media:
You work hard for your money, and if you want to place a little money in support of your favorite team, you shouldn’t have to drive to Iowa or use an international gambling app to do it. Sports wagering is good entertainment. It is a business, and it will create jobs.
Keep checking back for the latest news and updates on this ongoing story.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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