Minnesota Fails to Pass Sports Betting Legislation for Another Year as Bills Fall Flat

  • The Senate bill allowed racetracks to offer in-person betting, while the House bill did not
  • Minnesota’s tribes are opposed to sharing the betting market with racetracks
  • Most of the other differences between the House and Senate bills were relatively minor
  • Lawmakers are disappointed that more progress has not been made on legalizing betting
Businessman giving a thumbs down
Sports betting legalization will not happen in 2022 in Minnesota as the legislative session comes to an end without the Senate and House agreeing on a bill. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Waiting another year

Legal sports betting will have to wait at least another year in Minnesota. For the third straight year, the state’s legislative session came to an end on without any vote on a legalization bill.

While there were many similarities between House and Senate bills, the two chambers could not ultimately agree on a single bill. Both bills called for retail betting at tribal casinos and online sportsbooks through private operators that would work with tribes.

would also have been retail sports betting at Minnesota’s racetracks

One of the big differences in the Senate bill was that there would also have been retail sports betting at Minnesota’s racetracks. The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association has been very opposed to sports betting at Running Aces in Columbus and Canterbury Park in Shakopee. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has also revealed that he will not sign any sports betting legalization bills that do not have support from the tribes in the state.

Other differences between the bills

The Senate Finance Committee approved the Senate bill with amendments had last week. However, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association was quick to pen a letter strongly rejecting the idea of including the racetracks.

not allowing online sportsbooks to use most types of mobile push notifications

Some of the amendments to the bill that received approval in the House in April included curtailing online sports betting ads, safeguards around responsible gambling, and addiction treatment protocols. One of the specific amendments was not allowing online sportsbooks to use most types of mobile push notifications.

There were also differences as to how to use the taxes generated from legal betting. The House bill proposed that revenue would go toward problem gambling, as well as fund different types of public programs like youth sports. The Senate bill proposed allocating sports betting tax revenue to Minnesota’s general fund. A portion of the tax revenue or the license fees would have been contributed to Gamblers Anonymous.

Frustrations among lawmakers

There were palpable frustrations among lawmakers that more progress has not been made on legalizing sports betting. Pat Garofalo was an advocate of the Senate bill and he expressed his frustrations, saying: “There are too many legislators focused on short-term political considerations instead of thinking about what is best for the whole state.”

Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller has also been on record as saying that there would be no support in the Senate for the House bill if there was no inclusion of the racetracks. There is a feeling among many in the Senate that the racetracks need to have a place in the market to make it competitive and for consumers to have access to the best possible products.

There are 11 tribes in Minnesota, ten of which are part of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association.

Both of the bills would see tribes get up to two master online sportsbook licenses. There was a proposed 10% tax rate in place for online and retail sports betting revenue. Following a few years of maturity, fiscal analysis estimated that Minnesota’s sports betting tax revenue could reach between $20m and $30m.

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