Charitable Gaming Still Sticking Point In Minnesota Sports Betting Bill

Written By Pat Evans on April 7, 2022
Minnesota sports betting

A Minnesota sports betting bill continued its path forward Thursday, but not before a familiar issue gained more supporters.

Rep. Zack Stephenson shepherded his HF 778 through the House Taxes Committee, 13-5, Thursday afternoon. The MN sports betting bill now heads to the Ways and Means Committee.

During the relatively streamlined meeting, the state’s charitable gaming industry picked up allies. Electronic Gaming Group Executive Director Sam Krueger said if MN sports betting becomes legal, he wants lower taxes for the state’s charitable gaming industry, which includes bingo, raffles and electronic pulltabs through nonprofit entities.

Minnesota charitable gaming picks up support

Krueger has been a constant at Minnesota committee hearings. At a previous committee meeting, he said the “tribes aren’t the only game in town,” and the bill is “picking winners and losers.”

On Thursday, Krueger’s testimony was to ask for a lower tax rate on charitable gaming in the state. Miller and Rep. Bob Dettmer said they want to see adjustments to support the charitable gaming industry.

The concerns are valid but are not related to sports betting, according to committee member and bill co-sponsor Rep. Pat Garofalo.

Minnesota sports betting tax basics

Stephenson’s bill legalizes sports betting through Minnesota’s 11 federally recognized tribes. The tribes could run retail sportsbooks at casinos, while each would receive an online skin for mobile sports betting.

The state would levy a 10% tax against mobile sports bets in Minnesota. Committee Chair Rep. Paul Marquart said the state could see $5.5 million in tax revenue from sports betting in 2024.

The tax revenue would go to:

  • Regulating the industry
  • Addressing problem gambling
  • Youth sports programming

No need for Minnesota sports betting taxes?

Forecasts suggest Minnesota will have a $9.3 billion budget surplus this biennium. With the surplus in mind, Rep. Tim Miller said lawmakers should stop saying it is reasonable to legalize issues like sports betting and marijuana because the taxes can pay for the “degradation” they cause.

Stephenson said that legalization is more about regulation.

“I will never say we should legalize sports betting to get tax revenue,” Stephenson said. “Both our taxes and licensing structure are well below what most states have done.

“We’re not trying to do this to make money. It’s about getting rid of the black market.”

Senate bill just starting

Before Stephenson’s bill had its first hearing in early March, a group of senators announced a sports betting effort.

That bill, SF 574, will begin its journey through the legislature next week. It will be heard Monday by the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee.

Sen. Roger Chamberlain authored the bill that includes retail and mobile betting through the tribes and race tracks.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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