Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Passed by Another House Committee

Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Passed

  • Rep. Zack Stephenson’s Sports Betting Bill Approved by House Committee, 9-6
  • Bill Gives Retail and Mobile Sports Betting Monopoly to Tribal Casinos
  • Next Stop: Minnesota Tax Committee for More Debate and Approval

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Rep. Zack Stephenson’s Sports Betting Bill Approved by House Committee, 9-6

In Minnesota, eleven native tribes operate nineteen statewide casinos, so it makes sense to base a legal sports betting market around their existing operations, and that’s exactly what a bill sponsored by Rep. Zack Stephenson, Bill HF 778, does among other things.

Last week, HF 778 made it through yet another House committee, passing through the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee by a 9-6 vote after some heated debate from those state lawmakers, all part of a wearisome process to turn that bill into sports betting law.

Stephenson’s bill does the following:

  • Permits a legal in-person sports betting operation at the 11 tribal casinos
  • Creates up to two master online sports betting licenses for those 11 tribes
  • Gives control over the state’s online sports betting to those same tribes
  • Prevents the state’s race tracks and charitable organizations from offering any sports betting

State lawmakers understand that the longer they take to pass this legislation, Minnesota bettors will continue to spend their sports gambling money elsewhere using unregulated offshore sportsbooks, illicit bookies, or in neighboring states like Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa where that activity is already legal.

Right now, HF 778 is getting pushback from outside operators who resent being left out of the MN legal sports betting equation.

Bill Gives Retail and Mobile Sports Betting Monopoly to Tribal Casinos

As is true elsewhere in the U.S., in Minnesota all gambling concerns have been run through the native tribes and HF 778 would continue that tradition, however, the sports betting monopoly that creates has caused outside operators to push back since they want to be included in all this.

Put simply by Sam Krueger, executive director of Electronic Gaming Group:

“We deserve a seat at the table.”

Another concern with legalizing a statewide sports betting market for residents is the potential gambling addiction problems it could cause, a factor that many lawmakers and state leaders have brought up as a reason not to go ahead with this issue at all.

One state lawmaker, Rep. Matt Grossell, is not shy about his opposition to allowing any more gambling opportunities for those who suffer from the inability to stop, saying:

The idea of legalizing something that will make more problems doesn’t seem to make sense to me.

That issue has been addressed by Stephenson’s bill, with 40% of the tax revenue earned currently set to go towards addressing problem gambling and funding responsible gambling programs that affected residents can use.

There are still plenty of hurdles that HF 778 faces before it reaches Governor Tim Walz’s desk for a signature.

Next Stop: Minnesota Tax Committee for More Debate and Approval

So far, HF 778 has been approved by an impressive set of House committees, including the Commerce, Finance, and Public Policy and State Government Finance and Mobile, and now it faces the Minnesota Tax Committee before it can get a hearing in front of the House chamber.

Also in the mix now is another similar sports betting bill – SF 547 – introduced by state Senator Roger Chamberlain that, in addition to giving the state tribes a piece of the sports betting pie, it also allows state racetracks to offer retail and online sports betting.

In the end, this bi-partisan push for a legal sports betting market in Minnesota could generate between $40 and $50 million in annual tax revenues, money that right now is being spent elsewhere, so expect lawmakers to continue to push forward.

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