Latest Minnesota Sports Betting Bill has Support of Tribes, 6 Pro Teams

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Representative Zack Stephenson introduced a bill to the Minnesota House this week that would grant the state’s tribal casinos exclusive rights to 11 licenses for both retail and mobile sports wagering.

In January, Rep. Stephenson told Gaming Today that he expects Minnesota to pass a sports betting law in 2023. A newly formed alliance between the state’s tribal nations and its six pro sports franchises may be the key to making that prediction come true.

“Minnesotans have been waiting a long time for the opportunity to engage in fair sports betting,” Rep. Stephenson said this week in a prepared statement. “House DFLers (Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party) have continued to listen to and consult with the 11 sovereign tribal nations and other stakeholders over the last few years to ensure the best outcome for Minnesotans. Our bill is a step in the right direction to ensure consumer protection while engaging in sports betting. ”

Rep. Stephenson’s bill to legalize sports betting in Minnesota is similar to one he proposed last year, which passed the Democratic-controlled House before stalling in the then-Republican majority Senate. Governing Democrats now control both legislative chambers, although their Senate majority is a slim one-vote margin.

The Senate’s chief author of the bill is Senator Matt Klein. Sen. Klein compared the current ban on gambling to a prior state ban on Sunday alcohol sales, pointing out in Tuesday’s press conference that Minnesota citizens “often don’t understand why their wishes are being obstructed by government and creating inconveniences in their lives.”

Sen. Klein’s bill will face competition in the tightly contested Senate, where Senator Jeremy Miller is also expected to propose gambling legislation. Sen. Miller’s staff told Gaming Today that his bill’s language has been finalized, and they anticipate its introduction in next week. Sen. Miller’s proposal does not have a tribal exclusivity component, a potential sticking point and key difference between the two bills.

Minnesota Tribes and Sports Teams Provide Support

The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA), an important stakeholder in the state’s gaming, provided an open letter announcing its support for Rep. Stephenson’s bill. The statement, as reported by Fox 9, read in part, “Were your bill to become law, MIGA Tribes believe the resulting mobile and retail markets operated by Minnesota’s Tribal Nations would not only support Tribes, but would also provide a well-regulated and accessible market for the state’s sportsbettors and a competitive market that is important to our state’s professional sports teams and market partners.”

Minnesota’s six professional sports teams also issued a joint statement supporting the proposed bill:

Minnesota sports betting, Wild players and fans
A new Minnesota sports betting bill has the support of the NHL Wild and the state’s other five pro franchises (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

“We are happy to report that the state’s professional sports teams, including the Loons (Minnesota United FC), Timberwolves/Lynx, Twins, Wild, and Vikings have come to an agreement with the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association in support of the draft sports betting bill that you have authored and intend to introduce to the House of Representatives during the current session.”

Stephenson’s Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Leaves out Horse Racing Tracks

Rep. Stephenson’s bill is unlikely to receive the support of another key Minnesota gambling stakeholder: racetracks.

One of the state’s two racetracks, Running Aces in the northern metro, responded that the track’s future depends on being in on the expanded gambling options.

“A sports betting bill that excludes Running Aces jeopardizes the future of the horse racing industry in Minnesota,” CEO Taro Ito stated, as reported by Sahan Journal.

When asked about racetrack inclusion at his press conference, Rep. Stephenson replied that expanded licenses beyond the tribes would give “a lot of legislators in both parties significant concerns.”

Rep. Stephenson does not anticipate his proposed bill to come for a vote until April, as it still needs to pass multiple committees. The bill would impose a 10% state tax on online wagering that would exclusively fund gaming regulation, consumer protection, and programs devoted to problem gaming and youth sports. In-house wagers placed at tribal casinos would be tax-exempt.

About the Author
Adam Carter

Adam Carter

Legislative Writer
Adam Carter is a legislative writer at Gaming Today and has been published since 2017. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida, a Master of Arts in English from Indiana University, and a Juris Doctor from Notre Dame Law. Carter also writes for Great.com and currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he practices as an attorney and bemoans the local sports teams. His writing is also available in places such as Florida English Journal, The Rumpus, and Penumbra.

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