Minnesota Houses Approves Amended Sports Betting Bill

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The Minnesota House voted Thursday to legalize the sports betting bill, which passed through five House committees throughout its journey.

The HF 778, which cleared the House floor by a 70-57 vote on Thursday evening, now faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

The House version was crafted with critical input from the state’s 11 tribes, who will have exclusive sports betting rights. However, the Senate wants to include professional sports teams and racetracks.

The lack of movement in the upper chamber suggests the chances of reaching the finishing line during this legislative session are dim.

The legislative session ends May 23.

HF 778 would allow for statewide online and retail sports betting in Minnesota if passed by both chambers.

House Adopted Amendments on Thursday

The House adopted several amendments on the floor Thursday. In addition, multiple responsible gaming-related bills were also adopted.

One key amendment involved a three-hour delay between a mobile deposit and a bet. Another amendment prohibits mobile sports betting app push notifications.

However, the lower chamber rejected an amendment seeking in-person registration for mobile sports betting.

Rep. Zack Stephenson, the chief sponsor of the House bill, believes it is the bill whose “time has come.”

However, it is yet to see if his colleagues in the senate share his opinion.

Sports Betting Stalls in Senate

Despite progress in the Minnesota House, the Senate didn’t reflect the same level of enthusiasm to legalize sports betting. With this year’s legislative session less than two weeks away, the upper chamber has not even held a hearing on its sports wagering bill.

The Senate proposal includes the state’s pro sports teams and racetracks. However, the Senate bill has not moved in the chamber as a majority of the Republicans there is not a big fan of sports betting.

The Senate bill would empower the state’s tribes to oversee online and retail sports betting. But it would extend in-person sports betting at its two horse race betting tracks – Canterbury Park and Running Aces.

HF 778 grants the state’s 11 tribes Minnesota sports betting exclusivity, providing each tribe to have a mobile skin and retail sports wagering at their establishments.

Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller recently told media that “there’s not support in the Senate to do sports wagering for tribal casinos only.”

“Cautious Optimism” Still Keeps Hopes Alive

There are dim prospects for Minnesota sports betting this year, with less than two weeks remaining in the legislative session.

But all have not lost as Miller told media Thursday that sports betting “is still a work in progress.” However, in the next breath, he said there’s no Senate support for the version House has passed.

He said the agreement could still get done this session if the stakeholders could find some common ground where there are opportunities available at the tribal casinos as well as the tracks.

While the lawmakers work out to finalize a sports betting bill to create a legal marketplace that will replace an existing black market, a majority of Minnesotans want sports betting.

A recent poll conducted by KTPS/SurveyUSA found as many as 64% of Minnesotans want sports betting. Only 17% of those surveyed said they didn’t want it.

Another key finding in the survey revealed that Minnesotans largely support the inclusive Senate proposal.

The Minnesota Legislative session ends May 23, and Gov. Tim Walz has already said there are no plans for a special session this year.

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