Minnesota Bracing for Super Bowl Gambling

November 01, 2017 12:40 PM

The 2017 Super Bowl generated an estimated $5 billion in gambling, much of it illegal and a big share of it taking place in the city hosting the game.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety consulted with Houston officials to learn what to expect.


"Sports wagering is illegal," said Special Agent Terry Kelley of the DPS Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division. "If you are giving or accepting money or something of value, and you're paying out prizes it's going to be illegal."

Kelley says the gambling during the Super Bowl will take place online and in bars and restaurants in the Twin cities.

"We do work undercover in the bars and restaurants," Kelley said at a news conference timed to coincide with the kick-off of the 2017-18 NFL season. "We do go online and have an online presence with the things we're able to do."

Kelley says fantasy football websites like Draft Kings and Fan Duel are legal in Minnesota, as are fantasy football leagues in neighborhoods and workplaces. Just about everything else to do with sports wagering is illegal.

"I hear it from people all the time and I understand what they're saying" Kelley said, about why law enforcement works so hard to stop illegal gambling. "They say hey, it's not the crime of the century. Why do you bother with it?"

It's because of people like Don Weinberger, a recovering compulsive sports gambler who once lost his home and almost everything he owned. It all started when he had to give his VCR to a sports bookie to pay a gambling debt.

"A guy comes in the house, unplugged the VCR and out it goes," Weinberger said at the news conference, recalling the time when he had a young family and mounting gambling debts. "And my four year old, "Daddy, where's that (going)?"

DPS officials says they work to stop illegal gambling throughout the year, but this year will get special attention because of the Super Bowl in Minneapolis next February.


Tom Hauser

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