ST. PAUL, Minn. - One Minnesota lawmaker is eager to make sports betting legal in Minnesota should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn a federal prohibition on such gambling.
On Monday, the court could release its decision whether to allow the state of New Jersey to legalize sports betting.
The state is challenging the validity of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which barred sports gambling in all states that didn’t already allow it.
Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana were grandfathered in, with Nevada being the only state with widely available sports betting available today. Should the court give sports betting decisions back to the states, Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, says he’d introduce an already-drafted sports gambling legalization bill he’s been sitting on since February.
“Currently people do it over the internet and it’s unregulated,” said Garofalo. “A lot of the money goes overseas. We don't know what that money is used for.”
Garofalo says conservative estimates put Minnesotans betting $2 billion in the first year of legalization. How that would be taxed, where betting could be allowed, and what the tax revenue could be used on are all questions to be ironed out in the legislature.
“The important thing is we don’t want to have the proceeds of this bill earmarked for anything. We don’t want to have the funding of schools or the building of roads dependent on Minnesota sports gambling,” said Garofalo.
Senate Minority Leader Thomas Bakk, DFL-Duluth, said this bill would have an uphill battle in the Senate.
“Personally, I wouldn't support it. I don't think additional gambling venues improve Minnesota's quality of life,” said Bakk.
The Senate’s track record on other gambling proposals would back up Bakk’s claim. A bill to allow lottery tickets to be dispensed at gas station pumps and a bill to legalize fantasy sports betting in the state both failed.
“The more impulsive you make gambling I think causes more people to get into gambling problems,” said Bakk.
Traditionally, professional sports leagues have fought against the expansion of sports gambling. But in January, an attorney representing the NBA testified to lawmakers in New York that the NBA supports legal and safe sports gambling, and the NBA would be willing to partner in this gambling for a cut of 1 percent of every bet.