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Minnesota House passes sports betting bill; GOP-controlled Senate continues to be at odds

In its current form, the bill would allow tribes to keep all profits from in-person betting at tribe-owned casinos, in addition to 5% of revenue from mobile betting.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota House voted 70-57 to pass sports betting legislation Thursday night, queuing up the bill to now make its way to the Republican-controlled Senate.

KARE 11's John Croman reports seven Republicans and four Democrats broke ranks with their parties, voting yes and no, respectively.

According to Croman's reporting, Senate GOP Leader Jeremy Miller, of Winona, has already expressed disproval for the bill in its current form, as it only allows for betting at Minnesota casinos controlled by Native American tribes and through mobile betting companies like FanDuel and DraftKings, with whom the tribes are allowed to partner. Miller argues the bill should also allow for betting at places like Canterbury Park and Running Aces.

Democratic Rep. Zack Stephenson, of Coon Rapids, who authored the bill, met with the leaders of all 11 of Minnesota’s Ojibwe and Dakota tribes before crafting it — in addition to mobile gambling companies, the state’s professional sports teams and the University of Minnesota. Tribal governments have traditionally opposed legalization efforts in the past due to reliance on casino revenues, but the new proposal would allow tribes to keep all profits from in-person betting and 5% of revenue from mobile betting.

The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, which represents 10 of the 11 tribes, signaled support for the House proposal.

Despite anticipated bipartisan support in the House, the GOP-controlled Senate is unlikely to act on the legislation and get it to Democratic Gov. Tim Walz's desk. Miller told reporters Tuesday that he's confident the bill won't have the support it needs to pass in the Senate.

A bill introduced by Republican Sen. Roger Chamberlain, of Lino lakes, earlier in the session would allow the state’s two horse racing tracks to administer in-person wagering on sports.

Proponents of sports betting lost a brief, good-natured skirmish on the Senate floor Wednesday when Democratic Sen. Karla Bigham, of Cottage Grove, introduced the proposal as an amendment to the Senate GOP’s main tax bill. Bigham framed it as a way of raising revenue and of breaking the impasse over sports wagering in the Senate, and as a way of sparing Minnesotans from having to go all the way to Iowa to place a legal bet.

Bigham's amendment was ruled out of order because it wasn’t relevant to the underlying tax bill. Chamberlain said he would love to see it enacted, “deeply we really would,” but agreed the amendment was out of order.

“But it’s a nice, wonderful, beautiful thought,” he said.

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