Saturday, May 21

Minnesota House Approves Sports Betting Bill, May Find Difficulty in Senate

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Jan 13, 2022; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center/forward Karl-Anthony Towns (32) reacts to a foul call during the second half against the Memphis Grizzles at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
  • The Minnesota House of Representatives approved a bill to legalize retail and online sports betting for state tribes
  • Tribes will be able to offer online sports betting under the bill
  • Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller has already said it may face difficulty passing in the Senate

A long-discussed Minnesota sports betting bill took a huge step towards legalization, but it may find a more difficult path moving forward.

The Minnesota House of Representatives approved HF 778, a bill to legalize retail and online sports betting for the state’s 11 Native American Tribes, by a vote of 70 to 57.

The bill traveled through eight committees before receiving a hearing and vote on the House of Representatives floor.

Passed With Key Amendments

The bill was passed with several amendments, two of which will have significant changes to how Minnesota sports betting will operate.

The first is a built in “cooling off” period that will not allow sport bettors to place an online bet for three hours after depositing funds into an online sports betting account.

The second is an amendment that will prohibit “push notifications” from online sports betting apps to be sent to user’s phones. The only notifications allowed to be sent to users will be for possible cases of account fraud or fraudulent transactions.

An amendment that would have required Minnesota bettors to register online sports betting accounts in-person at brick-and-mortar tribal casinos was denied.

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Lack of Senate Support?

Despite its approval in the House, the Minnesota Senate may be another different beast altogether.

Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller (R-28) said earlier in the week in a media scrum that a bill that grants state tribes exclusive control of Minnesota sports betting would not be supported in the Senate. Miller said the state’s racetracks will likely have to be included in any sports betting legislation to have a chance at passing in the Senate.

“Sports gambling is still a work in progress. I think if stakeholders can come together and try to find some common ground where there are opportunities available at the tribal casinos, as well as the tracks, and perhaps if there’s something we can do to help benefit our charities, I think an agreement could still get done this session. We’re running out of time for that to happen,” he said.

The House bill, he said, in its current form does not have a chance to pass in the Senate.

The Minnesota session ends on May 23. The House and Senate would have to pass two identical sports betting bills for a chance at sports betting legalization this year.

Minnesota Retail and Online Sports Betting

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids), will legalize in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and create up to two master online sports betting licenses for state tribes. The 11 Minnesota tribes will have control over the state’s online sports betting. It will not allow the state’s race tracks to offer sports betting in any capacity.

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The bill will bring consumer protections to the state and help address problem gaming, with 50% of sports betting tax revenues earmarked for such programs. It’s one of the highest percentages of tax revenues dedicated to problem gaming in the entire country, Stephenson said.

After regulatory costs are covered, the remaining sports betting tax revenue will be used to fund youth sports in Minnesota communities with high levels of juvenile crime.

The bill sets the minimum age of participation at 21.

Master Online Sports Betting Licenses

In addition to legalizing retail sports betting for tribal casinos, the approved House bill will allow up to two “master mobile sports betting licenses,” valid for 20 years, to organizations comprised of two or more Minnesota Indian Tribes. One license will be granted to an organization with Indian Tribes located in the north of the state while the second license will go to Tribes in the south.

Each Tribe in a licensed organization will be able to partner with an online sportsbook company to operate their sportsbook app.

There are 11 federally recognized Tribes in Minnesota. Four Dakota Tribes have reservations south and west of Minneapolis and St. Paul, while seven Ojibwe/Chippewa reservations are located north of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Tribes own and operate 19 casinos in the state.

The following Tribes will be eligible to offer retail and/or online sports betting if the bill is approved:

  • Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
  • Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Grand Portage Band of Chippewa
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Lower Sioux Indian Community
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Prairie Island Indian Community
  • Red Lake Nation
  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
  • Upper Sioux Community
  • White Earth Nation
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