Sports betting legal in Iowa, stalled in Minnesota |

Sports betting legal in Iowa, stalled in Minnesota

Updated: August 29, 2019 06:44 PM

Legalized sports betting is creeping closer to the Minnesota border, but Minnesota sports fans still have to leave the state to place a bet on their favorite teams.

The Iowa Legislature authorized legal sports betting, which began in the state Aug. 15. The latest Iowa sportsbook is at the Diamond Jo Casino near Northwood, about 10 miles south of the Minnesota border.

"I think 35W is going to be an awfully busy road," said former Minnesota Viking John Randle, who appeared at the grand opening of the FanDuel Sportsbook in Diamond Jo Casino at noon Thursday.

Randle made the official first bet at the sportsbook, putting down $93 (his old number with the Vikings) on the Minnesota Twins to beat the Chicago White Sox Thursday afternoon.

A fiscal note on the Iowa sports betting legislation forecast about $1.8 million to $3.5 million in annual tax revenue from sports betting at casinos. That compares to $300 million in tax revenue from all other forms of casino gambling.

Sports betting is already happening in more states than you may realize. Nevada was the first to legalize sports betting in the early 1950s. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal law banning sports gambling last year, 17 other states have followed Nevada's lead.

The 12 states highlighted below in blue have legalized sports betting and sports books in those states are up and running. The six states highlighted in red have also legalized sports betting but sports books in those states have yet to open.

Zach Mueller drove up to the casino from Clear Lake, Iowa, in his Minnesota Vikings hat to place bets. He expects many of his fellow Vikings from Minnesota to do the same this season.

"Just pop on over the border, place a bet and head home for the game," he told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

Many of the cars in the Diamond Jo Casino parking lot had Minnesota license plates. That doesn't suprise Minnesota State Representative Pat Garafolo (R-Farmington). He authored a bill to legalize sports betting in Minnesota, but it didn't get a hearing in the House last session. A similar bill in the Minnesota Senate passed the tax committee, but went no further.

"This is a big win for the hospitality and tourism industries of Iowa," Garafolo told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. "The lack of legislative action in Minnesota regarding a popular item like sports gambling makes zero sense. Iowa is smart to capitalize on the stupidity at Minnesota's State Capitol.

The door to legalized sports betting opened last year when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on the activity.

John Helmberger, CEO of Minnesota Family Council, issued the following statement regarding the opening of the new sportsbook in Northwood:

"Sports gambling is not victimless. Increased bankruptcy, job loss, divorce rates, financial stress, and major debts are just a fraction of the price families pay. Predatory practices employed by the gambling industry literally prevent Minnesota families from prospering. Like many Minnesotans, we oppose the expansion of gambling because it disproportionately affects families that are already struggling economically. The winners are unscrupulous big corporations, and the losers are ordinary Minnesota families."

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Tom Hauser

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