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Lawmaker Set to Introduce Minnesota Sports Betting Act

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Updated Feb 1, 2023 · 9:01 AM PST

  • Sen. Jeremy Miller announced he will introduce a new sports betting bill in Minnesota
  • The Minnesota sports betting act will legalize online and retail sports betting
  • The bill will allow Minnesota tribes, professional sports teams, and race tracks to offer sports betting

Lawmakers are wading back into the Minnesota sports betting fight with a comprehensive bill to legalize online and retail sports betting for stakeholders in the North Star State.

Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-28) yesterday outlined the details of his Minnesota Sports Betting Act, which will legalize online and retail sports betting for each of 11 indigenous tribes, two horse racing tracks, and each professional sports team.

“It is time to authorize sports betting here in Minnesota. I believe this proposal, or something similar, can gain the bipartisan support to get something done,” Miller said in a press conference.

No Tribal Exclusivity in Minnesota Sports Betting Act

Miller’s proposal differs mainly from a 2022 House-approved sports betting bill in that it will not grant Minnesota tribes sports betting exclusivity. The Minnesota Sports Betting Act will grant the state’s 11 tribes the ability to offer in-person sports betting at tribal casinos, but will also grant the state’s two horse racing tracks and each Minnesota professional sports teams the ability to do the same at their facilities.

Additionally, Miller said each tribe will be eligible to receive a primary online sports betting license to allow them to conduct online sports betting. Each tribe will also be eligible to receive one partnership online sports betting license, which will allow the tribe to enter into one strategic partnership agreement with a horse racing track or professional sports team to conduct online sports betting as well.

“This gives the tribes, especially the smaller tribes, that may not have access to as many people, but also the larger tribes, it gives them the ability to partner with a horse racing track or a professional sports team if they want to reach more people with the mobile option,” he said.

Many of the tribes already have strategic advertising partnerships with professional sports teams in the state, he said.

The act will also allow for temporary in-person sports betting licenses for major sporting events that come to Minnesota. These include the Super Bowl, the Final Four, PGA tour events, the Big 10 Championship, and WWE events, Miller said.

Sports betting tax revenues would be earmarked for four main areas; 25% to provide tax relief for charitable gambling, 25% for grants to youth sports, 25% for mental health and problem gambling support, and 25% to help bring major sporting events to Minnesota.

Potential Uphill Battle for Legalization

The addition of horse tracks and professional sports teams may be a sticking point for Minnesota lawmakers. During the state’s 2022 session, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved HF 778, a bill to legalize retail and online sports betting for the state’s 11 Native American Tribes, by a vote of 70 to 57.

It granted sports betting exclusivity to tribes and completely cut out access for tracks and professional sports teams. Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids), the main sponsor of the House approved sports betting bill, created the bill to give sports betting control only to the state tribes and never once publicly stated he hoped to include any other organization in the law.

Miller fielded questions on potential pushback to a bill that included several other stakeholders and said it was belief that a tribal exclusive bill did not have enough Democratic or Republican support to be passed.

“I don’t think a tribal exclusive bill has the support to pass the legislature. I could be wrong on that, but I don’t think there are enough Democratic or Republican votes to pass,” he said.

Tribes Likely to Oppose

During the 2022 Minnesota legislative session, state tribes publicly decried a proposed Senate amendment to expand sports betting to the state’s racetracks. The 10-member Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee roundly rejecting the amendment to expand sports betting to state racetracks.

The tribes announced they would oppose any legislation that did not grant them exclusive sports betting control.

“Through the stakeholder process, Rep. Stephenson, Rep. Garofalo and other crafted a bill that accomplishes the goal of providing a safe and competitive marketplace for Minnesota sports bettors without threatening the viability of tribal gaming in the state. Therefore, nine of the 10 MIGA tribes offer their full and active support for the current version of HF 778, while one member of the association does not. If amended by the A-22 amendment, which expands commercial gaming, all 10 MIGA tribes would then oppose the legislation,” MIGA reps wrote in their letter.

It’s unlikely that the tribes will not oppose this measure as well.

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