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Looks like Minnesota’s newest sports betting bill – HF778 – is starting to get legs in the state House after getting the green light on Tuesday from the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee, with the legislation’s next stop being the State Government Finance and Elections Committee.
The bill’s lead sponsor, State Representative Zack Stephenson, chairs the commerce committee and he feels certain that a legal sports betting market in Minnesota is inevitable as long as it fully includes the state’s native tribes who currently run the casino gambling there.
Stephenson told the press:
As someone who would not bring a bill forward if we didn’t think we had a path to tribal support, I feel very comfortable standing before you today with the bill.
According to the legislation, the state’s native tribes would keep the revenue from any in-person sports bets placed in their casinos, but they would have to share a portion of the online market that they would launch in conjunction with outside operators.
The reality that Minnesota faces, and that Stephenson fully acknowledges and hopes his bill will tackle is that state residents are already engaging in sports betting, they are just having to go elsewhere to do it, telling the media:
“What this bill is about is creating a legal marketplace that will displace that black market and in doing so, provide consumer protection, ensure the integrity of the game and limit money laundering and other illegal activity.”
Legalizing that existing market could mean millions of dollars in tax revenue redirected back to the state.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018, all states including Minnesota were given the choice to create their own legal sports betting market, and industry experts have projected the Gopher State could generate anywhere between $30 – $100 million annually.
Rep. Stephenson is more cautious with his predictions and has told the press that he thinks Minnesota’s sports betting market would be more in the $20 million revenue range, still a chance to bring that money back to the state and tax it accordingly.
Now HF778 will face the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee, that hearing scheduled to take place on March 15, a bill that many lawmakers like Rep. Pat Garofalo see as a bi-partisan and tribal solution to this issue, saying:
“I’m here today to represent myself, as well as many members of both the Republican and Democratic parties, who are here today to say we want to support regulated safe sports gambling in Minnesota. Let’s move Minnesota forward.”
Much of the tax revenue earned by this new market has already been promised to some worthy causes.
Forty percent of the tax revenue is already earmarked to fund youth sports and youth programming with another forty percent going towards addressing gaming addiction, and Stephenson is confident that will make voters happy, saying:
“What we have done is develop a model that is specific to Minnesota that works with the dynamic that we have here in Minnesota that’s designed for Minnesotans.”
The path to a legal sports betting market in Minnesota still contains more hearings and then a full House and Senate vote plus the governor’s signature, but Stephenson is optimistic his fellow lawmakers will soon vote to join the neighbors – Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan – that have already launched.
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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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