New Sports Betting Bill in Minnesota Puts Tribes in Control of New Industry

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A new house bill that sets to give the Minnesota Tribes control over sports betting in the state will get its first hearing on Tuesday.

According to its sponsor, Rep. Zach Stephenson of Coon Rapids, he has met with the leaders of the state’s 11 tribes in the previous months to develop a “Minnesota-specific” model which the tribes will finally support. The bill will need to get past at least six committees in the House and pass the Senate before it can proceed.

Said Stephenson in a press conference:

“If this bill passes, Minnesotans will be able to visit sports betting lounges in casinos all across Minnesota, and they’ll also be able to wager on sports from their own mobile phones anywhere in the state.”

State Gets 10% Share of Online Sports Betting Profits

Under Stephenson’s bill, the Tribes would get to keep all the profits from sports betting activities in their casinos and would take around 5% of the total amount wagered using mobile devices. The casinos would be allowed to partner with existing mobile sports betting companies like FanDuel, DraftKings, at BetMGM.

The State would get only a 10% share from the online sports betting net profits which is estimated to be $20 million per annum. 40% of the government’s take would go to youth sports, especially in communities where there is a high level of juvenile crimes. Another 40% would be allocated for programs to combat gambling addiction, while the remaining 20% will be for regulating the sports betting industry to protect its customers.

Minnesota Indian Gaming Association Support

In a statement, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association expressed support for Stephenson’s bill. According to the group that represents 10 of Minnesota’s 11 Tribes, their members support the state’s efforts to legalize sports betting at tribal casinos and through online wagering and believe that they are best positioned to offer this new market to the state’s consumers. They added that they will be monitoring the legislation and look forward to working with the other stakeholders.

The Tribes have long opposed legal sports betting as they argue that it would affect their casino revenues which they mainly depend on their budgets. But with Stephenson’s bill giving them control over the new industry, they are expected to drop their longstanding resistance and finally give their support to the legalization of sports betting in Minnesota.

Minnesota To Reintroduce Sports Betting Bill This Week

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Two Minnesota lawmakers announced on Tuesday plans to reintroduce a new bill that would legalize sports betting in the Gopher State.

Democratic Sen. Karla Bigham of Cottage Grove and Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo of Farmington, sponsored the bill with the hopes that their luck will change this time after failing to gain support in previous years.

Said Bingham:

It’s already done flagrantly and it’s time shine some light on it, put some guardrails around it, protections around it, and quite honestly we need to legalize it. If that state makes a few bucks while we’re at it, good for us.”

Details of the New Bill

The proposed legislation would allow on-site legal sports betting at tribal casinos for the first year, then mobile betting for those who sign-up for an account a casino. On-site sports betting will be taxed at 6% while mobile sports gambling will be subject to an 8% tax. 99.5% of revenues would go to the state’s general fund while 0.5% will benefit compulsive gambling assistance programs.

A gambling commission will be set up and members will include representatives from tribal casinos and racetrack operators. According to the proponents of the bill, legalizing sports betting in Minnesota will not only help the state close its $1.3B budget deficit but it will also protect Minnesotans who gamble anyway using offshore websites or illegal betting sites.

Tribes Oppose Sports Betting

Currently, the only form of gambling for Minnesotans are the state lottery and casinos. In February 2019, Gov. Walz indicated his support for the legal Minnesota sports betting, depending on the details. Walz wanted to see Minnesota sports betting done through existing tribal gambling entities that are already have existing contract with the state for legal casino games.

But the tribes that own and manage the casinos across the state have been the vocal opponents of legal Minnesota sports betting and off reservation gambling in general. These tribes, which own 21 Minnesota casinos, argue that allowing sports betting on mobile devices would invite wider online casino gambling that would threaten brick and mortar casinos.