Bill to legalize sports betting in Minnesota gets final push before session ends

A bill that would legalize sports betting in Minnesota still has a chance to be passed before the legislative session ends on Monday.

Thursday, the Minnesota Senate’s Finance Committee approved to allow sports betting at tribal casinos and both racetracks in the state, as well as mobile betting.

The bill still needs full Senate approval and, if that were to happen, a conference committee would have to work out the differences between the Senate bill and the one the House passed last week, which didn’t include the racetracks.

The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) said in a statement that it would not support the Senate’s version of the bill because of the amendment that includes racetracks. Governor Walz previously said he would not sign a sports betting bill that did not have the support of Minnesota’s Native American tribes.

The statement from MIGA said in part “But to be clear, MIGA has consistently opposed the expansion of non-tribal commercial gaming and will continue to do so. This opposition seeks to protect the gaming industry that today serves as the essential tax base tribal governments and communities rely on.”

However, the late push gives some hope that a sports betting legalization bill could be approved before the session ends in a few days.

“It’s long past time to legalize sports wagering in Minnesota,” Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, the author of the Senate bill, said in a statement. “This version is good for tribes, it’s good for tracks, and most importantly, it is great for consumers. It gives Minnesotans gaming options at brick-and-mortar locations and online vendors. It respects the Tribal Nations and provides a revenue stream to the state. It’s time to get this done.”

Rep. Patrick Garofalo, R-Farmington, co-author of the bipartisan House bill acknowledged the Senate and House need to reconcile their differences to make legal sports betting a reality when the House bill passed last week.

“Now is the time to bring stakeholders together to work on legislation that can pass with broad, bipartisan support in both legislative chambers,” Garofalo said in a statement. “Through compromise and working together, we can put a bill on the Governor’s desk that satisfies the concerns of stakeholders and lawmakers.”

A KSTP/SurveyUSA poll taken in April showed 57% of Minnesotans support legalizing sports betting at tribal casinos and horse tracks, and with mobile sports betting.

Two-thirds of states have legalized sports betting, including Minnesota’s bordering states.

Americans have bet more than $125 billion on sports with legal gambling outlets in the four years since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for all 50 states to offer it.