Tribes Oppose Minnesota Sports Betting Despite Changes To Bill

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Minnesota sports betting

Native American tribes remain opposed to Minnesota sports betting.

The first Minnesota sports betting committee hearing of the year showed that little has changed in the Land of 10,000 Lakes despite amendments offered by the bill author.

Sen. Roger Chamberlain introduced a new version of SF 1894, the bill he filed in the Minnesota Senate last year.

Legislation introduced in odd years carries over into even years in Minnesota. The Minnesota sports betting bill advanced through one committee last March but stalled for nearly a year before coming up in the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee on Tuesday.

In an attempt to make the legislation more acceptable to the state’s Indian tribes, Chamberlain proposed an amendment for SF 1894 requiring in-person registration for mobile sports wagering.

Tribes issue new letter opposing MN sports betting

John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA), submitted written testimony to the committee stating that “Minnesota tribes remain concerned that a legal sports betting market could have negative consequences to the state’s delicate gaming industry.”

MIGA urged a better understanding of the impacts from recently enacted sports laws, particularly in states with a significant tribal gaming presence, before pursuing any new types of gaming. The association represents the 11 tribes that operate 19 casinos in Minnesota.

This corresponds with comments made by Melanie Benjamin, chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians, last October in a tribal gaming panel at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

“As it starts to evolve in other states, we need to look at the data of how it would affect Minnesota,” Benjamin said. “Currently, we’re looking at a possible 4.5% increase. That’s not a lot of economic benefit, so we’re proposing that we wait and see what’s going to happen in a year or so and how that will impact the tribes.”

Proposed changes to Minnesota sports betting bill

Chamberlain’s new amendment would:

Chamberlain pointed out that sports betting is now legal in 20 states, including Minnesota’s neighbor, Iowa, where he said he won $40 last year.

He contended that reasons for Minnesota to legalize sports betting included defunding the underground economy, providing consumer protections, putting money in the state coffers and that it’s a fun, analytical, data-driven activity.

“Some people obviously are concerned about the expansion of gambling,” Chamberlain said. “As you’re aware, in Minnesota, we already have the tribal casinos, Minnesota lottery, charitable gaming and even bingo at your local pub. There are billions and billions of dollars right now being wagered in this state.”

More on the addition of in-person registration

With tribal casinos concerned about how mobile wagering will impact their brick-and-mortar facilities, Chamberlain tried to ease their concerns by adding the requirement that accounts be established in person.

The industry trade group, iDEA Growth, recently released an analysis of requiring people to go to a facility to register a mobile account.

Working with Eilers & Krejcik to study the impact of the requirement in Iowa, the research showed:

What’s next for sports wagering in MN?

As Tuesday’s hearing was an informational one, no votes were taken to amend or advance the bill.

There is also House bill HF 1278 on sports betting introduced last year by Rep. Pat Garofalo. His legislation didn’t allow participation from the racetracks and limited wagering to tribal casino properties, yet still didn’t get support from the tribes.

With all 11 Indian tribes still in opposition to MN sports betting, it appears Minnesota will not be the land of 10,000 sports bets anytime soon.

The Minnesota Legislature is set to adjourn May 18.