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Place your bets, another sports gambling bill to be introduced at State Capitol

Lawmakers say Minnesota is the only state in our region not allowing sports betting.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota lawmakers who support legalizing sports gambling are giving it another go this year.

State Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) is planning to introduce the Minnesota Sports Betting Act in an effort to legalize sports wagering in the state.

Similar efforts to bring legit sports gambling to Minnesota have been done in recent years but have failed.

Thirty-six states have legalized sports gambling since 2018 when the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that effectively banned most states from sports gambling.

Sen. Miller says Minnesota is the only state in our region not allowing sports betting.

"It's time to authorize sports betting in Minnesota. As other states move to authorize sports betting, Minnesota is falling behind" said Sen. Miller in a news release. "We are the only state in the region where it remains fully illegal to bet on sports. The Minnesota Sports Betting Act is a fair a responsible proposal to authorize sports betting here in Minnesota. This proposal is good for the tribes, it's good for the horse racing tracks, it's good for the professional sports teams, and most importantly, it's good for the folks who would like to bet on sports here in Minnesota. This is long overdue and it's time to get it done!" 

Miller's bill will allow in-person sports betting at casinos for Minnesota's 11 Native American tribes. Each tribe would also have the option for online gaming.

The tribes "would also have the option to receive one partnership mobile license, allowing them to partner with a Minnesota professional sports team or a horse racing track to conduct mobile sports betting. The tribes could utilize the primary mobile license, the partnership mobile license, or both," according to the news release.

A representative with the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association was at the press conference on Tuesday and said while they would not comment about the announcement because they have not seen the bill, traditionally they only support gambling on reservations. 

In a statement released earlier the month, MIGA said "The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association and its nine member tribal nations support state efforts to authorize sports wagering both at tribal gaming properties and through online/mobile platforms. Tribes are best positioned to provide this new offering to the state’s consumers. MIGA and its members will be closely following the progress of state legislation and look forward to working with other stakeholders to develop an approach that benefits Minnesotans while protecting the Indian gaming operations that tribal and rural communities rely on for jobs and economic health."

Sports betting on-site would be allowed at Minnesota's two horse racing tracks: Canterbury Park in Shakopee and Running Aces in Columbus.

The bill would also offer on-site betting to Minnesota sports teams and temporary licenses to big sporting events "such as the Super Bowl, Final Four, Big Ten Championships, PGA events, WWE events, and more," according to the release. 

Sen. Miller says right now residents travel across state borders or find "illegal workarounds" online to place a bet. He says legalization will make it "safe, structured, and regulated."

Sen. Miller's bill says the money from legalized sports gambling would be divided as follows: "25% for tax relief for charities, 25% for mental health and problem gambling support, 25% for major sporting events, and 25% for grants to support youth sports throughout the state," according to the release.

Miller said there’s bipartisan support for it, but said he has not shown the proposal to others because he is finalizing the verbiage of the bill. 

Others, however, point out there’s bipartisan opposition to it as well.

Republican Representative Greg Davids said gambling disproportionately hurts low-income families but doesn’t know if it’s realistic to hold onto his hope this won’t come to fruition.  

"This may be the era it goes through," he said. "I've lost votes before and I won before. I think we have plenty of gaming now. There are many opportunities for that. And I'm not saying go back and repeal gaming that we have, but we certainly don't need anymore."

But Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, who introduced similar bills last legislative session, said he is thankful Miller is bringing it up again. 

"Minnesotans deserve the opportunity to safely and legally wager on sports, just as the residents of over 30 other states are able to do," he said. "I am hopeful that 2023 is the year we get the job done."

To get an idea of how much money sports gambling can bring to Minnesota the state of Iowa legalized sports gambling back in 2019. Through the first eleven months of 2022, the state generated 143.7 million, according to the American Gaming Association.

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