New Amendment Threatens Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Prospects

Written By

Updated on

Minnesota sports betting

With stakeholder negotiations ongoing, legislators on Tuesday amended a Minnesota sports betting to enhance consumer protections, including a prohibition on in-game wagering that could become an issue for passage.

After advancing Senate File 1949 through a few committees last year, Sen. Matt Klein (D) picked up the Minnesota sports betting bill in the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. The committee approved an amendment to expand problem gambling support before sending the legislation on to the Taxes Committee.

Klein’s bill is a companion to House File 2000, which Rep. Zack Stephenson (D) pushed in the lower chamber last month. Industry proponents believe the proposal is Minnesota’s best hope to legalize sports betting in 2024, and remains the basis for negotiations between the state’s tribes and horse racing tracks. 

Details of MN Senate sports betting bill 

The Klein and Stephenson proposal gives the 11 Minnesota tribes access to in-person and online sports betting. The state would tax sports betting revenue at 10%

Klein supported Sen. Jordan Rasmusson‘s (R) amendment that takes four steps to enhance protections against problem wagering. Those additions include:

Stephenson’s House bill saw amendments last month that send sports betting tax revenue toward problem gambling support.

Problem gambling support in Minnesota

Klein said the amendment would help make Minnesota the “safest sports betting in the nation.” Rasmusson crafted the in-game ban after discussions with problem gambling experts and said it cuts down on loss chasing by bettors. Klein acknowledged the industry will likely push back on the ban.

Sen. John Marty (D) wants Minnesota to be ready for the problems that come with the sports betting industry.

“I have no problem with gambling, most people are doing what they want to do anyway, but when you allow a predatory industry, that’s when you have problems,” Marty said.

In-game sports betting ban a poison pill?

Despite the support from Klein, at least some Minnesota lawmakers believe the in-game prohibition could kill the bill. No other state has banned in-game betting.

“The MN Senate change to sports gambling bill to eliminate in-game wagering is unworkable,” tweeted Rep. Pat Garofalo (R), a long-time Minnesota sports betting supporter. “No state in the country has this type of ban. If sports gambling is going to happen this session, this poison pill will need to be removed.”

Sports Betting Alliance representative Jeremy Kudon told the committee in-game wagers account for 50% of sports betting in the US. Kudon said that number could grow to 75% by 2030.

Failed sports betting amendments in Minnesota

Rasmusson also proposed several other amendments, including a ban on collegiate betting. Klein asked for opposition to the amendment, and the committee voted it down.

“A prohibition on college athletics is a carveout of about 40% of the market,” Klein said. “It is not a serious intervention for problem gambling.”

Sen. Zach Duckworth (R) proposed several amendments aimed at including the horse racing industry and charitable gaming in the state. Duckworth withdrew his amendments, as Klein told him discussions with both parties continue.

Why multiple bills are still alive

Last year, Stephenson was set to lead the sports betting charge. However, his Democrat-Farmer-Labor party focused on other platform goals with control of the state capitol and governor’s office. 

There was some DFL resistance to sports betting, requiring Republican cooperation. Republicans want the horse tracks involved in the industry. 

Eventually, Klein pushed the companion bill in the Senate with an amendment sending 30% of sports betting revenue to the tracks. The two sides were not satisfied, and legislators carried the bills over to the 2024 session. 

Tough parties to crack in Minnesota 

The DFL has a strong working relationship with the tribes. The tribes want sports betting exclusivity and have killed sports betting legislation in the past.

Andy Platto, Minnesota Indian Gaming Association executive director, told the committee that the nine member tribes support the DFL proposal. However, Platto said Tuesday’s amendments introduce some concerning additions.

“We continue to evaluate,” Platto said. “Some of the policy changes are of serious concern. However, tribal leaders ask for committee support as amended today so it can continue its progress.”

Republican bills alive in Minnesota

Sen. Jeremy Miller (R) introduced a sports betting bill, Senate File 3803, at the beginning of the session. 

His bill builds on the DFL proposal but allows the tribes to partner with the tracks and sports teams for in-person sportsbooks. It also carries a 15% tax rate. 

A companion House bill was also introduced. Neither bill has moved this session.