KSTP-TV/SurveyUSA poll: Minnesotans support legalizing marijuana, sports betting 

KSTP-TV/SurveyUSA Poll: Legalizing marijuana and sports betting

KSTP-TV/SurveyUSA Poll: Legalizing marijuana and sports betting

Finishing work on a two-year state budget is the top priority of Minnesota lawmakers, but Minnesotans also have their eyes on two other issues with broad public interest: They support legalizing recreational cannabis — or marijuana — and they support legalizing sports betting, but with one major condition.

First, both the House and Senate have passed recreational cannabis bills and the issue has broad public support. According to our new KSTP-TV/SurveyUSA poll, 64% of registered voters surveyed across the state support legalization. The bill has support from Democrats (81%), independents (63%) and almost half of Republicans surveyed (49%). However, 46% of Republicans are opposed.

“This is a win-win for the DFL,” says Carleton College political analyst Steven Schier. “They are probably going to destroy the marijuana party that they believe is taking votes from them … by passing a measure that is very popular with most Minnesotans, which is legalization of recreational cannabis.”

The cannabis legislation will be in a House-Senate conference committee Friday morning as lawmakers seek a compromise between two competing bills.

The chances for sports betting are a bit murkier than the cannabis legislation. A majority of Minnesotans support legalizing sports betting, but only if it’s allowed at Minnesota’s two horse tracks. According to the survey, 54% support sports betting at horse tracks, Native American casinos and on mobile devices. If it’s only allowed at Native American casinos and on mobile devices — but not horse tracks — support drops to 8%. Both the House and Senate bills currently exclude horse tracks.

“Sports betting is a classic example where an important and influential community or constituency is more important to a certain group of decision makers than broad public opinion about an issue,” Schier said. “And that’s what’s preventing the expansion of sports betting in Minnesota.”

The Senate bill does now include a $20 million “economic development fund” that could be used by horse tracks, with an additional $3 million in following years out of the state’s share of sports betting tax revenue. The tracks testified that still wouldn’t be enough to make up for all they revenue they will lose if they’re shut out of sports betting.

On Friday, Senate sports betting bill author Sen. Matt Klein, DFL-Mendota Heights, said he’s been making progress in negotiations with the horse tracks.

“I do believe we’re moving closer every single day. I think there’s a good possibility an agreement will be reached and that this legislation could be accomplished this session,” Klein said.

The sports betting bill will next be heard in the Senate Tax Committee.

The poll included 34% of respondents who identified themselves as Democrats, 34% as Republicans and 27% as independents. The “credibility interval,” similar to a margin of error, is ±4.2%.

See the full breakdown of these survey questions below: