A group of five Minnesota lawmakers held a press conference Wednesday to express interest in legalizing in-person and online sports betting.
The lawmakers, all Republicans, claimed that legalizing Minnesota sports betting would be a win for the state and citizens alike.
Minnesota Sports Betting Gains Support
Senator Roger Chamberlain is heading the effort— Chamberlain previously proposed amendments to laws that would legalize sports betting and is now attempting to integrate gambling and racing by creating betting licenses for two local racetracks, Canterbury Park and Running Aces.
“The proposal here is good for the tribes, the tracks, but most importantly it is good for the consumers,” said Chamberlain on Wednesday.
Minnesota’s four surrounding states— North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin— all have legalized sports gambling in some measure, making Minnesotans the odd man out in this situation.
Citizens have been tempted by offshore sportsbooks amidst the rise of sports betting popularity in America, a sentiment certified by the $52.7 billion national handle in 2021. This number was up over 200% from the previous year and is only going to keep growing as more states continue to expand gambling operations.
Senator Karin Housley acknowledged the hypocritical nature of offshore sports betting in a state with no regulated sportsbooks, delivering a damning verdict.
“As a matter of fact, there’s a couple of sergeants on our floor, on the Senate floor; I’m not allowed to say their names; they are also sportsbetting on their phones,” said Senator Housley during the press conference.
TheMinnesota Indian Gaming Commission provided commentary to Fox 9, re-emphasizing sentiments they expressed last Fall.
“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,” read the statement. “As gaming experts, tribes stand ready to share this expertise with lawmakers considering the future of sports betting in Minnesota.”
Sports Betting in the Midwest
Wisconsin joined the Midwest betting scene last year by allowing tribal casinos to offer sports betting among their various attractions. St. Croix Casinos, roughly 90 minutes from the Twin Cities, modified an application for sports gambling approval; assuming that this proposal is not rejected, sports betting could begin on-scene within the next month and a half.
Wisconsin does not allow online betting yet and will only allow commercial gambling on tribal grounds.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission reported a $2 billion handle in 2021 and received $278 million in bets in 2022 alone, with 99% of the wagers coming online. This has largely been the result of a change in legislation that allowed Iowans to register with sportsbooks online after they were previously required to first visit retail locations.
“It’s just never been easier to place a bet,” said Russ Mitchell, an editor and analyst for PlayIA.com.
Effects on Minnesota
Following the old adage “there is not better time than the present,” Minnesota could do with getting some form of legislation passed before this year’s annual NCAA Tournament, known fondly as March Madness.
The American Gaming Association estimated the $8.4 billion would be gambled on last year’s tournament, making the stakes too great to pass up on this time around. Although it will be hard to become operational before the conclusion of the yearly tournament, it will help incentivize other lawmakers to pass legislation in favor of legalizing Minnesota sports betting.
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