A Minnesota Senate committee sent a sports betting bill to the floor Thursday, loaded with an amendment likely to end any chance of legalization this year.
The MN Senate Finance Committee advanced HF 788 to the Senate floor Thursday. The House passed the MN sports betting bill last week, but the Senate committee added a potential deal-breaker to the legislation by including horse racing tracks.
The original proposal gave online sports betting exclusivity to 11 Minnesota tribes, who oppose the inclusion of tracks and professional sports teams. Minnesota’s session ends Monday.
Minnesota sports betting amendment
Sen. Roger Chamberlain added the amendment in the committee. Chamberlain introduced a bill earlier this session, but it did not move.
Chamberlain said the amendment helps add competition to the market.
“We can’t have maybe two licenses in the state and hope for others,” Chamberlain said during the meeting. “You need to have a healthy market of different odds and different prices.”
Minnesota tribes oppose amendment
The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, which represents 10 of 11 tribes, wrote a letter of opposition to the committee. MIGA supported HF 788 during House committee meetings.
Minnesota tribes worked to kill sports betting legislation in the past. Industry sources have told LSR throughout the session that amending the House bill likely kills any hope for 2022 legalization.
Chamberlain told the Finance Committee he has discussed the situation with tribal representatives and that they will work toward a compromise. That appears in opposition to what is in the letter.
Compromise needed in Minnesota
The tribes do not want other parties involved in sports betting. In research for writing HF 778, Rep. Zack Stephenson said he worked with the tracks, professional sports teams, tribes and the University of Minnesota.
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller said all parties would need to compromise to get the bill to Gov. Tim Walz. Both chambers need to agree on a final bill.
“We need the stakeholders to get together,” Miller said in a press conference this week. “If the tribes and the tracks can come together and sort of work towards an agreement, I’m confident that we can get bipartisan support for the sports betting bill.
“But until that happens, it’s going to be challenging to get enough votes to get it passed.”
Committee disagreement shows MN sports betting split
Multiple senators from both parties expressed displeasure with the sports betting bill. Complaints ranged from the expansion beyond the tribes to moral issues with gambling.
Sen. John Marty moved to withdraw the bill from the committee and send it to the State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee. The motion failed, 6-4.
Along with the tribal opposition, the bipartisan split shows the difficult road ahead for Minnesota sports betting legalization in 2022.