Momentum building for sports betting in Minnesota

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A second Native American tribe in Wisconsin has signed an agreement for legalized sports betting. The St. Croix Casino in Danbury, located about 90 minutes from the Twin Cities, is the latest to offer sports gambling. There are also forms of legalized sports betting in Iowa and both North Dakota and South Dakota.

"We no longer can be an island," said Sen. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove. "Thirty-three states and territories have legalized sports wagering. It is time for Minnesota to join that group."

Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo, Farmington, agrees.

"It’s past time for us to bring safe and regulated sports gambling to the state of Minnesota," he said.

Both Bigham and Garofalo have authored legalized sports gambling bills in the past, but both are now in the minorities of their respective bodies. However, DFL Commerce Committee Chairperson Zack Stephenson and Republican Sen. Roger Chamberlain are members of the majorities in both chambers who are authoring new bills next session.

"Many Minnesotans are already engaging in sports betting," Stephenson said at a news conference last month when he announced he would be authoring a bill. "The fact that we don’t have legal sports betting in Minnesota doesn’t mean we don’t have sports betting in Minnesota."

Maybe most importantly, after years of saying they are opposed to any expansion of gambling, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association says it is willing to consider the idea if the right agreement can be struck.

"The tribal governments making up MIGA have been examining the various ways sports betting has been implemented across the country and its impacts on tribal communities," MIGA Executive Director Andy Platto said in a statement. "As gaming experts, tribes stand ready to share this expertise with lawmakers considering the future of sports betting in Minnesota."

The Minnesota Legislature reconvenes in late January.