How the Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Failed to Pass in 2024

Legislators failed again to pass a Minnesota sports betting bill during the 2024 session. Doing so requires balancing numerous interests, including those of Native American tribes, horse racing tracks, and political adversaries.

We’re going to come up just short on the sports betting bill this year. But in the last few days we proved that we could find a deal that all the major stakeholders could live with. Tribes, tracks, charities… That’s meaningful progress that can be a foundation for the future.

Proposed by Rep. Zack Stephenson, the bill wouldn’t pass before time ran out in the legislative session. Stephenson’s bill would have made Minnesota’s 11 federally recognized tribes the sole purveyors of mobile sports betting, which would have been taxed at 20%. Some gambling legislation advanced and became an interesting token in sports betting negotiations. Stephenson proposed a successful bill to reverse a decision by the Minnesota Gaming Commission to allow historical racing kiosks at Canterbury Park and Running Aces tracks.

With the session over, Minnesota is left to pick up where it left off or start again.

Victor Rocha, the Conference Chair of the Indian Gaming Association and President of Victor Strategies, and Catena Media legislative reporter Matthew Kredell, recently hashed through the Minnesota sports betting situation in an Indian Gaming Association podcast.

Highlights and Insights on the Minnesota Sports Betting Failure

On a Deal Almost Coming Together Late in the Previous Session

Matt Kredell: They had an offer from the tribes and the legislature to tracks that was basically $3 million a year [in 2023]. Originally, they could get up to $20 million. So basically, they would get uncapped for the first two years, and then after that, it would be capped at $3 million. That’s what the tribes would get out of it.

Plus, there were restrictions on where the money would go. So, most of it would have to go to racing purses. The tracks didn’t want it to be capped at that amount. At least, they wanted uncapped, but they also wanted fewer restrictions on the money.

So that’s where it was at the end of the last session when it seemed like it was pretty close, but then it enters this session, and you think, “Well, they’ll start where they left off. So they’re, they’re pretty close. They’ll get it done.”

But then they opened this year. Representative Stevenson offered $625,000 for the tracks, quite less than the $3 million from the previous year.

And I think part of that was between the end of last year and this year, some of the smaller gaming tribes, they were thinking, “Maybe we don’t partner with DraftKings or FanDuel. Maybe we don’t make much money off of this. And if the track tracks are getting $3 million a year, that could be more than we’re getting from online sports betting. …. We have exclusivity on this. But the tracks will make more money on it than we are.”

Why Didn’t Minnesota Pass Sports Betting in 2024?

Matt Kredell: [Tribes] came around, and in 2022, they said, “We want this. We want it. We want to have tribal exclusivity on it. And we want online sports betting.”

So that was when the modern push began. For the past three years, it seemed like the legislative will would do it at the end of each session if the tribe and the horse racing tracks in the state – which were only two of them – could come to a deal.

At least two Democrats just weren’t going to support any gambling expansion bill. So they needed to get Republican support to pass a bill, and Republicans were not going to pass a bill if the horse race track were on board.

And that didn’t happen in 2022. They couldn’t come to an arrangement, even though it seemed like they were having some good discussions at the end and making some progress. And then, in 2023, they again seemed like they were really close to a deal at the end, but they didn’t get one done, and it didn’t get passed in the legislature. As a result, this year, what was different was that they actually came to a deal at the end.

There was a deal that the tracks supported, the tribe supported sports team supported charities, Minnesota supported. Sports betting operators were good with it. So there was a deal in place that everything, everyone was behind. There was the legislative support to pass it, but it still didn’t pass because of just the partisan divide that was going on at the end of the Minnesota legislative session this year.”

Minnesota Sports Betting Timeline: 2024


EDITOR’S NOTE: Portions of the interview have been edited for style and clarity.

About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Lead Writer
Brant James is a lead writer who covers the sports betting industry and legislation at Gaming Today. An alum of the Tampa Bay Times,, espnW,, and USA Today, he's covered motorsports and the NHL as beats. He also once made a tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rode to the top of Mt. Washington with Travis Pastrana. John Tortorella has yelled at him numerous times.

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