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Sports betting simplified
Minnesota has everything necessary to make legalized sports gambling a success. Starting with teams in all of the major pro sports. The NFL Vikings, NBA Timberwolves, NHL Wild, and MLB Twins all call the Twin Cities metro area home and are well supported. Minnesota also has big-time college sports with the Minnesota Golden Gophers of the Big Ten Conference. Additionally, Minnesota has the infrastructure for a major player in sports gambling. The Twin Cities boast a major-hub international airport and several key financial services centers. There is money in Minnesota and a sizeable population. Yet there is no sports gambling.
State of Minnesota Sports Betting Overview
While sports betting has yet to be legalized in Minnesota, there is plenty of gambling at one of the many tribal casinos. Minnesota was the first state to negotiate a compact with tribes under the Indian Gambling Regulatory Act 1988. When making these deals or compacts, the state didn’t include any tax contributions from the tribes or allow for any renegotiation in the deal without the tribes’ permission—there’s little reason for the tribes to choose to do so now.
Minnesota’s 11 tribes operate 19 casinos, offering slots, blackjack, poker, and bingo. The variety of table game offerings is rather low, though.
Outside of the tribal casinos, Minnesota has a state lottery that allows residents to purchase tickets online. Two horse racing tracks/card rooms are also operating in the state.
Until legalized sports betting comes to the North Star State, Minnesotans can travel south to Iowa, where sports betting has already been legalized.
Sports betting in Minnesota is not yet legal, but that looks increasingly likely to change in 2023.
A bipartisan effort to legalize retail sportsbooks and online sports betting in Minnesota failed in 2022 over a single question: whether tribal gaming operators should have exclusivity over sports betting or if the state’s two race tracks should get a piece of the action.
However, Minnesota sports betting is on the agenda in 2023. Democratic lawmakers say they will introduce another bill in 2023 that will give tribes exclusivity over sports betting, this time with their party in control of the House and Senate.
Most signs point to Minnesota legalizing online sports betting and retail sportsbooks sooner or later. The biggest hurdle Minnesota online betting faces today is getting lawmakers and tribal gaming groups on the same page regarding the finer points.
State of Minnesota Sports Betting Timeline
In 2023, Rep. Zack Stephenson once again introduced legislation to try and legalize Minnesota sports betting. With the backing of pro sports teams the in the state, the proposed legislation would hand control of the industry over to the tribes in the state. The new bill is similar to one proposed by Stephenson in 2022.
Stephenson’s efforts again fell short in 2023 as the legislative session ended without a sports betting bill passing. Disputes over including horse racing tracks in the proposed legislation prove a sticking point.
In 2022, Rep. Zack Stephenson followed through on his promise from late 2021 to lead sports betting effort through the House. His bill advanced through the House but ran into a significant issue in the Senate. The Senate added an amendment to include two horse racing tracks, which was a deal-breaker for the House.
A separate Senate effort did not move.
Lawmakers adjourned the session without agreeing, meaning sports betting will wait until at least 2023.
In 2021, Five sports betting bills were introduced in Minnesota legislative chambers. None of the bills received a hearing as stakeholders remained at odds.
In late 2021, Rep. Zack Stephenson announced his intention to introduce a bill during the 2022 session that appears as though it could have legs for legalization.
In 2020, Bills introduced in odd years carry over to even years in Minnesota, meaning the bills from Rep. Garofalo and Sen. Chamberlain were still on the books.
Chamberlain attempted to bring the tribes on board by proposing to amend his bill to require in-person registration for mobile wagering. The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association let it be known that all 11 tribes opposed the bill.
The legislature adjourned on May 18 without moving on Minnesota sports betting legislation.
2019 Real efforts to legalize and regulate sports betting in Minnesota began in 2019 with two very different bills introduced in the House and Senate.
The Senate bill from Sen. Roger Chamberlain offered sports betting to Indian casinos and the state’s two racetracks, allowing for mobile sports wagering tethered to the existing properties. The Indian tribes opposed the bill.
The House bill, introduced by Rep. Pat Garofalo, tried to get tribal support by limiting sports betting to brick-and-mortar Indian casinos. The tribes were still opposed.