Minnesota House votes to legalize sports betting
The Minnesota House voted Thursday to legalize sports betting, marking the closest the legislature has come in years to the expansion of for-profit gambling in the state.
Minnesotans would be able to place bets at physical and online locations under the House measure, which passed a bipartisan vote of 70 to 57 and was crafted with crucial input from the 11 tribal nations in the ‘State.
“It’s an idea whose time has come,” said DFL-Coon Rapids representative Zack Stephenson. the bills main sponsor.
But what started as an optimistic bipartisan push fizzled during the legislative session. Key differences remain in the House and Senate proposals, which has not yet held a hearing this year on his bill. With less than two weeks until lawmakers head home for the summer, it’s unclear whether the two chambers will reach an agreement and make 2022 the year Minnesotans can legally bet on sports.
The House and Senate bills would legalize in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and online gambling through tribal-supervised providers. The Senate proposal would also allow in-person betting at racetracks.
Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that the sports betting “is still going.” But he said there was no Senate support for the House version of the bill.
“If stakeholders can come together and try to find common ground where there are opportunities available in tribal casinos as well as on the tracks, and maybe if there is something we can do to help our charities, I think a deal could still be done this session,” Miller said. “But we’re running out of time for that to happen.”
Federal law largely banned commercial sports betting until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the ban unconstitutional in 2018. is legal in more than 30 states – including all of Minnesota’s neighbors – and in Washington, D.C.
Proponents say it’s time for Minnesota to benefit from the tax revenue generated by the sports betting market. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), Americans set a commercial sports betting record in 2021 of over $57 billion,
Additionally, Stephenson said, Minnesota already has “a robust black market.”
“This bill aims to create a legal market that will replace this black market and in doing so will ensure consumer protection, guarantee the integrity of the game and limit money laundering and other illicit activities”, a- he declared.
The House bill would direct taxes on mobile sports betting profits toward regulation, combating problem gambling, funding youth sports and other programs. The Senate proposal would direct tax revenue to the state’s general fund, and a percentage of license fees or tax revenue would go to Gamblers Anonymous.
But opponents of sports betting say the costs outweigh the benefits.
In a March letter to Gov. Tim Walz and lawmakers, religious leaders from the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition raised concerns about addiction and the effects of problem gambling on people living in poverty. They also called for changes to existing laws, including raising Minnesota’s legal gambling age from 18 to 21 and expanding support for problem gamblers.
“We strongly oppose any consideration of expansion of play and ask that you refrain from discussing additional play until our state meets the needs under our current laws,” the letter reads.
The House on Thursday approved amendments to the bill that increased the number of hours advice the state will provide to impulsive gamblers and their families; limit ads for mobile sports betting; and put safeguards in place, including banning most smartphones push notifications for sports betting applications.
Still, several lawmakers have expressed concerns about legalizing sports betting, from the loss of revenue for existing gambling operations to the ramifications for people struggling with gambling addiction.
“I’m all for voting for more money to fix some of the gambling issues,” said Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe. “But expanding the game is not a way to solve the problem.”