This week may be decisive when it comes to legal betting in Minnesota and local bettors are hoping for some good news. If everything goes the way they hope it will, the North Star State may become the 35th in which sports betting is legal in some form.
On Thursday, the Minnesota Senate’s Finance Committee made a decision that could prove to be an important milestone in efforts to bring legal wagering to the state. The Committee voted 5-4 in favor of approving legal mobile sports betting as well as wagering at the tribal casinos in Minnesota and two of MN’s racetracks.
However, for betting to become legal, it still has to pass the State Senate. Still, there’s a realistic hope that it may happen before the end of the current legislative sessions on Monday. The tribal casino-only bill has already passed the House. This means that if the bill receives full Senate approval, there would have to be a conference committee to help reach the compromise, as the House bill did not include racetracks.
At the same time, MIGA (Minnesota Indian Gaming Association) has released a statement of its own. The state’s Native American gambling organization said that they would not support the version of the bill that is currently in the Senate. The reason for this is that it involves racetracks, unlike the bill that passed the House. It’s worth noting that Governor Walz previously stated that unless a sports betting bill has the support of Minnesota’s Native American tribes, he won’t sign it.
In their statement, MIGA clearly stated that they oppose the expansion of non-tribal commercial gaming and that they will continue to do so in the future. The gaming industry as it’s organized today is the key to the functioning of native tribes and the whole communities rely on it.
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Despite the opposition from MIGA, a late push may still secure the sports wagering legalization before the Senate session ends. Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, who authored the Senate bill, noted that it’s about time Minnesota legalizes sports betting. He believes that the current version of the bill benefits both the tribes and the racetracks. More importantly, it benefits the consumers in the state. It will provide Minnesota bettors the opportunity to bet both in land-based sportsbooks and on their mobile devices. Plus, the bill takes into account the concerns of Native Americans and provides a significant source of revenue for the state.
The co-author of the bipartisan House bill, Rep. Patrick Garofalo, R-Farmington, admitted that Senate and the House need to work together to reach compromise if the betting is to become legal. It’s necessary that all stakeholders are brought together to secure broad, bipartisan support for the legislation. Garofalo is hopeful that legislators can propose a bill that will satisfy the needs and answer the concerns of all stakeholders.
According to a recent survey, 57% of Minnesota residents support the legalization of sports betting.