It’s a safe bet that Minnesota will legalize playing sports after a bipartisan plan in the state legislature garnered support from the state’s Native American tribes as well as Gov. Tim Walz.
The passage is far from a lockdown and a key disagreement erupted among lawmakers on Monday. But the developments signaled a sea change for the idea of legal sports betting in Minnesota, which has been pursued in various forms since the Supreme Court overturned a long-standing federal ban in 2018.
Since then, 33 states and Washington, DC have approved some form of sports betting.
HOW IT WOULD WORK
Under a proposal set for its first public hearing Tuesday in the Minnesota House, betting on professional, college or amateur sports competitions would be allowed on-site at Indian casinos or anywhere in the state through licensed online gambling sites or mobile apps. The venture would be regulated by the state but managed by tribes and online companies, with which the tribes could contract through state-controlled licenses.
It is unclear how much money is generated for the state. representative Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, and Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, the two up front the statement, said profit margins are slim in a national multi-billion dollar industry. The primary goal, they said, was not to provide the state with a windfall but to legalize a common form of entertainment now relegated to the black market.
The couple’s proposal includes a 10 percent tax on winnings from online sports betting and no tax on money made in casinos. They agreed that this would generate maybe $20 million a year, which they plan to split in three ways:
- 40 percent would fund problem gambling services.
- 40 percent would pay grants for youth sports, with a focus on high-crime areas.
- 20 percent would pay to regulate activity and ensure gambling does not affect athletes or on-field activity of games or teams being wagered on.
“I’m very comfortable with the support this bill has,” Stephenson said.
He said he consulted with local professional and collegiate sports teams, groups that help treat people with gambling problems, and, perhaps most importantly, the tribes when drafting the bill.
The state’s 11 Indigenous nations have significant influence over possible changes to Minnesota’s gambling, both through agreements with the state and through their political influence, particularly among Democrats. Lt. gov. Peggy Flanagan is a citizen of the White Earth Nation, and Walz has claimed that any attempt to legalize sports betting would need the tribe’s support for him to consider it.
That hadn’t happened to any plan—until Monday.
“The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) and its 10 member tribal nations support government efforts to authorize sports betting on both tribal gaming facilities and online/mobile platforms and believe that tribes are best positioned to support this new market to the state’s consumers.” The organization said in a statement. “MIGA and its members will oversee state legislation and look forward to working with other stakeholders.”
A spokeswoman for Walz said the governor would sign off on the plan if it passed the legislature.
RACE TRACKS EXCLUDED
It’s unclear whether both the DFL-controlled House of Representatives and the Republican-controlled Senate would pass the Tribes-approved plan. Gambling legislation is rarely strictly partisan, with some members of both parties opposed to gambling for a variety of reasons ranging from religious to economic. In addition, lobbying by various interest groups, including bars, restaurants and racecourses, can have an impact.
One reason the Indian Gaming Association’s statement is not absolute is that the tribes know that what is proposed today could differ from what ultimately reaches the bottom of either chamber. The current bill must go through at least six committees, and each offers an opportunity to make changes.
One sticking point has already emerged: the state’s two private racetracks, Canterbury Park and Running Aces in Columbus.
Both tracks offer card tables like poker, but not the full range of casino games offered in tribal land casinos – the result of a delicate compromise struck years ago. Under Stephenson and Garofalo’s proposal – backed by the tribes and Walz – the lanes would not be involved in the expanded sports betting.
That differs from a separate bipartisan Sports betting proposal tabled in Senate earlier this year by State Sens. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, and Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove.
This plan would have allowed sports betting to be placed at the racetracks as well as tribal casinos. And this plan was not supported by the tribes.
On Monday, Chamberlain said he was standing by his guns and made the following statement about the Stephenson-Garofalo plan:
“I welcome Democrats to the table, and we will work together to write legislation that can achieve this. However, the offer in its current form will not offer the consumer a good product. We need to expand the options for consumers to have the best possible experience.”
https://www.twincities.com/2022/03/07/bipartisan-sports-betting-plan-gains-major-endorsements-from-tribes-walz/ Bipartisan Sports Betting Plan Receives Huge Support from Tribes, Walz – Twin Cities