MINNEAPOLIS — After years of rejecting sports betting, state governments across the country are embracing it. With a brand new bill officially on the table with support from both DFL and Republican lawmakers it looks like Minnesota could soon follow suit.
Whether it’s been a friendly wager between friends, Super Bowl squares or fantasy teams, sports betting has been around since sport was invented.
Doug Terfehr of Maxim Bet says the difference right now is wagering on sports is going mainstream. “It’s something that’s been a part of culture – sports culture – just not legalized, and just not regulated and just not in a way that benefited the states, so they get the tax returns on that,” he said.
Sports betting is legal in 33 states, and 19 of those have come on board in the last year. According to a Morning Consult survey, 18% of adults 21 and older bet on sports at least once a month accounting for more than 52.7 billion dollars throughout the year.
Terfehr believes beyond that, Minnesota has a good reason to get on board. “The state is surrounded by other states that are legal. Just to your south Iowa did $2 billion in sports betting last year.”
That means more eyes and interest on sports. Historically, there is a high correlation between a sporting event’s viewership and the number of bets placed on that event, which is why leagues aren’t shying away from gambling partnerships.
Legalized sports betting has been the one missing piece of the puzzle from the sports fan’s perspective. according to Terfehr. “When you look at it from the different things that you can bet on now, it does make it a lot more entertaining and that’s where it does help sports and kind of helps the fan have something to look forward to the very end.”
Of course, legalizing sports wagering comes with its problems. It’s estimated roughly 2% of Americans are addicted to gambling, which is one of the reasons the shift to legalization has been a slow process.
Most states do put a percentage of their profits to programs that help with addiction, and some have built-in guidelines to help with limits.
“There’s things to do to make sure people are betting responsibly," Terfehr said. "It’s a very important topic, making sure that they are setting limits, that they go into any sports betting with a game plan – there is a process to that.”