Competing Minnesota Sports Betting Efforts Taking Shape

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Minnesota sports betting

A Minnesota sports betting legislative battle is heating up with multiple bills in play.

Sen. Jeremy Miller plans to introduce an MN sports betting bill that would open the industry to commercial entities including horse racing tracks and professional sports teams. Miller announced the Minnesota Sports Betting Act during a press conference Tuesday.

“It’s time to authorize sports betting in Minnesota,” Miller said during the press conference. “As other states move to authorize sports betting, Minnesota is falling behind. We are the only state in the region where it remains fully illegal to bet on sports. The Minnesota Sports Betting Act is a fair and responsible proposal to authorize sports betting here in Minnesota. 

“This proposal is good for the tribes, it’s good for the horse racing tracks, it’s good for the professional sports teams, and most importantly, it’s good for the folks who would like to bet on sports here in Minnesota.” 

Last year, Miller led the Republican Senate that stymied Rep. Zack Stephenson’s bill that showed promise throughout its House journey. Stephenson will introduce a sports betting bill in the coming weeks, according to a spokesperson. The state’s tribes will play a vital role in sports betting legislation as they hold exclusive casino gaming rights in Minnesota.

Miller’s uphill Minnesota sports betting battle

Last year, Stephenson’s bill provided tribes exclusive access to mobile sports betting in the state. Once the Miller-led Senate attempted to expand the bill to include the race tracks, talks died. Stephenson’s bill will be similar to last year’s, according to several sources.

This year, Miller will face an uphill battle as now both chambers are held by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which is tight with the Minnesota tribes. Gov. Tim Walz, a sports betting supporter, is also DFL.

Miller said the bill will be bipartisan, but has not had conversations with other lawmakers for potential co-authors. He also said that while he based the bill on previous conversations, he has not spoken to stakeholders about this particular bill.

Minnesota Sports Betting Act details

Miller’s bill would provide Minnesota’s 11 federally-recognized tribes, as well as the state’s race tracks and professional sports teams, with retail sports betting licenses. Each tribe would also receive a primary mobile license.

The tribes would also be able to partner with a professional team or track for an additional mobile license. Major sports events, like the Super Bowl, Final Four or PGA tournaments, could receive a temporary retail license, as well. 

Miller said sports betting taxes would be split evenly: 

Tribal exclusivity a deal breaker? 

While the DFL prefers tribal-exclusive legislation, Miller said he does not believe that would have the votes to pass both chambers. The tribes, however, have killed sports betting legislation in previous years. 

In the past two years, however, the tribes have softened on gaming expansion. Without seeing the bills, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association will not comment on them; however, it did support Stephenson’s throughout hearings last year.

Last month, it released a statement on sports betting: 

“The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association and its nine member tribal nations support state efforts to authorize sports wagering both at tribal gaming properties and through online/mobile platforms. Tribes are best positioned to provide this new offering to the state’s consumers. MIGA and its members will be closely following the progress of state legislation and look forward to working with other stakeholders to develop an approach that benefits Minnesotans while protecting the Indian gaming operations that tribal and rural communities rely on for jobs and economic health.”