Minnesota Sports Betting Dead Until 2023

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Vikings fans will have to wait at least another year for legal sports betting in Minnesota (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

The Minnesota Senate adjourned early Monday morning, officially killing the odds for sports betting in the state this year. 

If you support legalized sports gambling in MN, please be sure to thank those members who tried to pass it,” state Rep. Pat Garafolo, a leading proponent, tweeted over the weekend. 

“Lots of finger pointing going on regarding it failing. All I will say is I know the full story and anyone trying to make this partisan is full of shit.”

Differences Between House And Senate Bills

The House passed earlier this month a measure giving exclusive rights to the state’s tribes to operate sports betting.  

Garofalo, a Republican, worked alongside state Rep. Zach Stephenson, a Democrat, to shepherd the legislation through. On May 13, in a bipartisan vote, House File 778 passed 70-58.

But the Senate version, sponsored by state Sen. Roger Chamberlain, was amended to allow horse tracks to take part in sports betting. During a Senate committee hearing last week he said it was bad business to give the tribes a monopoly on the industry. 

“That doesn’t work for a business model,” he said, referring to limiting licenses to just the tribes. 

That bill passed the Senate Finance Committee 5-4 on Thursday. The Senate adjourned Monday without it being taken up for consideration. 

Garofalo, who said in January he was optimistic 2022 would be the year, was angry at how things ended. 

“(There are) too many legislators focused on short-term political considerations instead of thinking about what is best for the whole state,” he said. “The sports gambling issue is symbolic of how screwed up the lawmaking process is in Minnesota,” he told the Alexandria Echo Press, a local news publication in the state. 

Next Steps For Sports Betting In Minnesota

The Minnesota Senate has adjourned for the year, and the House is expected to follow suit shortly. Unless a special session is called to tackle sports betting, a very unlikely event, the issue is dead until 2023.

During the Senate committee hearing last week, numerous lawmakers lamented they were rushed to consider the legislation. One member said she had scheduled a hearing for her own separate committee, only to have it pulled off the schedule. 

The issue of who controls sports betting is not going to go away. The tribes have been protective of their right to control gambling in the state. Sports betting is unlikely to pass without their support. 

While it did not outwardly advocate for HF 778, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association made clear it was on board with the House-passed version but adamantly opposed to the Senate-amended version. 

About the Author

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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