MINNEAPOLIS -- Sports betting is illegal in Minnesota, but many gamblers are doing it anyway, according to Republican Minnesota Representative Pat Garofalo of Farmington.
"Either through in-person contacts or people using websites of applications on their phone," he explained.
Rep. Garofalo is one of many state lawmakers across the country making the case for the legalization and regulation of sports gambling in their respective states.
"What we want to do is allow sports gambling in Minnesota that is safe, regulated and fair, unlike the current process, which is unregulated and unfair to consumers. There's no consumer protections, especially with all these websites - these overseas websites. We don't know where this money is going and how it's going to be used," said Rep. Garofalo.
But first, the US Supreme Court needs to decide on a historic case.
The state of New Jersey filed a lawsuit, aiming to strike down a federal law that prevents the state from allowing sports gambling.
A handful of states, such as Nevada, are exempted from the law under a grandfather clause.
The Supreme Court's decision is expected to be announced later this year.
If the Supreme Court overturns the federal law, "this will allow the opportunity for states to decide on an individual basis what sports gambling laws will be in their own states as opposed to having a mandatory federal prohibition on it," added Rep. Garofalo.
Rep. Garofalo has received complaints from Minnesota sports gamblers.
"They've had a difficult time redeeming their winnings or there's been excessive transaction charges, which have not been revealed on the front side when people have opened up accounts," he said.
If the Supreme Court rules in New Jersey's favor, Rep. Garofalo predicts that "we'll see action on this during the 2018 legislative session here in Minnesota."
"We want to make sure there’s a level playing field across Minnesota and that Minnesotans know what to expect in terms of legal gambling age, what sports are going to be available to them and the regulations that are in place," said Rep. Garofalo.
A local conservative advocacy group, the Minnesota Family Council, is opposed to the legalization and regulation of sports gambling.
In a statement, Stephani Liesmaki of the Minnesota Family Council writes, "Minnesota Family Council opposes any efforts to legalize sports gambling in Minnesota. It is a predatory business that results in economic and social harms to society, families, and individuals. Dangerous practices should not be legalized just so the state can gain revenue from them. Gambling targets vulnerable populations including youth, individuals with gambling addictions, and low-income households. Let’s not profit off of them. The State should not prey on its own vulnerable citizens."