Minnesota House passes legal sports betting bill
Even with legalized sports betting in Minnesota closer to reality than ever before, its prospects appear dim in the Senate, where a similar proposal has not moved forward.
ST. PAUL — Legal sports betting passed a major milestone in the Minnesota Legislature Thursday night, May 12, with the House of Representatives voting to approve a bill that would allow a practice already permitted in all surrounding states. But as the legislative session nears its close, the Senate has still not taken action on its version of the gambling proposal, dimming the odds of the state changing the law.
The bipartisan proposal authored by Reps. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, and Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, would allow tribal casinos to provide in-person and mobile sports betting within the state of Minnesota. Tax revenue from sports betting would go to gambling addiction programs, youth sports and gambling law enforcement efforts.
Stephenson and Garofalo have argued that sports betting is already happening in Minnesota but is currently happening on the black market, which offers no protection to consumers.
“Ultimately this is an issue whose time has come,” Stephenson said as he urged fellow House members to vote yes Thursday night. “Minnesotans want us to have this conversation. They want this to be legal, this is a step in the right direction.”
The House approved the bill 70-57 with bipartisan support. Amendments adopted on the floor included increasing state-funded problem gambling counseling time from 12 to 60 hours, and preventing gambling apps from sending push notifications to phones unless the company suspects fraud.
Even with legalized sports betting in Minnesota closer to reality than ever before, it still faces a major hurdle in the Senate. Lino Lakes Republican Roger Chamberlain introduced a sports betting bill that would also allow two Twin Cities-area horse tracks to provide betting services, but the Senate has not taken it up. Lawmakers have until May 22 to pass any bills.
“Sports gambling is still a work in progress,” Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said Tuesday. “I think that if the stakeholders can come together and try to find some common ground, where there are opportunities available at the tribal casinos, as well as the tracks, and perhaps if there’s something we can do to help benefit our charities, I think you could still get it done this session. But we’re running out of time for that to happen.”
The fortunes for legal sports betting have appeared better than ever during the 2022 legislative session. Before lawmakers convened in January, Democrats and Republicans in key leadership positions in both the House and Senate expressed interest in getting a bill passed.
The prospects appeared better still after the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association expressed support for Stephenson’s bill. However, the gaming association did not issue a statement of support for a senate legal sports betting proposal that would allow horse tracks to provide the service as well. Gov. Tim Walz said he would not sign a sports betting bill without tribal support.