Minnesota Sports Betting Legalization is Not Likely to Happen This Year

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Last Thursday, a sports betting bill was sent to the state Senate floor by a Minnesota Senate committee. It came with an amendment attached that may have killed the chances of legalizing Minnesota sports betting in 2022. Minnesota sports betting bill HF 788 was advanced by the Minnesota Senate Finance Committee.

HF 788 was passed by the Minnesota state House the week before. But now, the Minnesota Senate Finance Committee added an amendment that includes horse racing tracks. And, this inclusion caused a problem for the bill’s future.

Originally, Minnesota sports betting bill HF 788 was allotting exclusivity for online sports betting to eleven tribes in Minnesota. These tribes do not support including consideration for online sports betting for professional sports teams and racing tracks. And, with the Minnesota legislative session set to end this week on Monday May 23, this could spell the end of the bid for legal Minnesota sports betting in 2022.

In the committee, the amendment was added by state Senator Roger Chamberlain. Senator Chamberlain had previously introduced a sports betting bill earlier in the legislative session this year, but it made no progress. He feels it is important to add this amendment because of the competition it could bring to the sports betting market in the state.

He feels the state needs a healthy market that includes different prices and odds. He has also stated to the Minnesota Senate Finance Committee that he has talked about the situation with representatives from the tribes and that they are progressing toward finding a compromise. However, with very little time and a recent letter from the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, this seems unlikely.

Ten of the eleven tribes in the state are represented by the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, which wrote a letter to the committee stating its opposition. During the state House committee meetings surrounding the sports betting bill, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association indicated its support of HF 788.

In the past, the tribes in the state have been able to successfully kill sports betting legislation that it did not support. They absolutely do not want to have any other parties involved in sports betting in the state. So, the fact that the House bill has seen the inclusion of this amendment in the state Senate has probably eliminated the possibility of Minnesota sports betting in 2022.

Minnesota state Representative Zack Stephenson did his research when he wrote HF 788. During this time, Representative Stephenson spoke with professional sports teams, the University of Minnesota, the racing tracks, as well as the tribes in Minnesota. And, the result is the sports betting bill that was accepted in the House and supported by the tribes.

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller has already stated that all parties involved would need to find a sports betting compromise if the bill is to pass both chambers. He feels the racing tracks and the tribes need to meet in the middle to find an agreement they both can live with. That is the way he sees the sports betting bill finding the bipartisan support that it would need to pass and make its way to Democratic Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s desk.

Without bipartisan support, a sports betting bill has a rough road toward legalization and passing both the chambers. During this legislative session, HF 788 has seen detractors from both parties in the state Senate. The issues raised have included wanting to expand sports betting to parties other than just the tribes as well as the moral implications of legalizing sports betting in the state.

State Senator John Marty proposed withdrawing the bill from the committee to instead send it to the State Government Finance and Policy Elections Committee. However, by a vote of 6 to 4, this motion failed.

With bipartisan opposition added on top of the opposition indicated by the tribes, it looks like we are still a ways away from seeing Minnesota sports betting. And this is especially true when it comes to seeing Minnesota sports betting this year, in 2022.

Written by Allie Nelson, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.