Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Passes Third Committee

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The Minnesota sports betting bill continued its progress Tuesday towards legalization as it cleared the third committee.

After passing through the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee with a 9-6 vote, the bill now moves to the Taxes Committee.

Minnesota sports betting bill – HF 778 – would legalize statewide mobile betting, allowing the operators to tether with tribal casinos to launch in the state.

Previously the bill had cleared through the Commerce, Finance and Public Policy and State Government Finance Committees.

Further Details

On Thursday, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association reiterated its support for Rep. Zak Stephenson’s legislation. Stephenson has worked with the state tribes to craft a piece of legislation agreeable to them.

The tribes have opposed the previous efforts to legalize sports betting in the Gopher State.

But MIGA Executive Director Andy Platto’s testimony in support of HF 778 reflects the untiring Stephenson’s efforts who has brought the sports betting legislation to the nearest point to the goal.

He has already ushered his bill through three committees. In most states, bills end up in a chamber floor after one or two committees. But in Minnesota, a stricter scrutiny is underway, forcing Stephenson and others to appear over and over again to iron out the concerns of most of the stakeholders.

In his testimony, Platto said the state tribes support the bill’s general concept and give input as it inches forward.

Why Did Minnesota Tribes Oppose It Previously?

The Minnesota tribes have previously opposed the gaming expansion as most of their revenues depend on casinos.

Stephenson collaborated with the tribes to win their support.

Under HF 778, the state tribes would retain all the profits from their casinos, besides receiving 5% of the money wagered online.

Any national operators such as BetMGM can offer Minnesota sports betting after partnering with the tribes.

HB 778 would create up to 11 mobile licenses.

Some Opposition Persists

While supporters are excited by the rapid progress, some groups have expressed concern over the bill. The Electronic Gaming Group – a representative entity of charitable gaming interests – reiterated their concern as they are excluded in the bill.

Other opposition came from some anti-gambling groups such as Neighborhood Youth Academy and Stop Predatory Gambling. Their representatives raised concerns regarding the bill’s possible effect on the state children.

However, Stephenson has already committed to raising the legal age of a bettor from 18 to 21.

During the virtual hearing, Stephenson reiterated his stance that sports betting is already happening in the Gopher State. He added that they have a robust black market in Minnesota, estimating it to be over $2 billion in black market activity.

He said that the bill is all about creating a legal market that would displace the black market. This will, he added, ensure consumer protection, the integrity of the game and limit illegal activities in Minnesota.

Is Legal Sports Betting Coming to Minnesota?

Last year, Stephenson revealed his sports betting plans and removed the curtain completely earlier this month. Some senators also announced a renewed effort in February to push sports betting in the state, with Sen. Roger Chamberlain hoping the industry’s launch by fall 2023.

According to Chamberlain, “it’s time to move Minnesota forward.” He said there are always challenges, but there is momentum to get done.

While Stephenson’s proposal is making headways, many hurdles still remain.

According to an informed source, the version of sports betting that the Senate wants to see is “a long way off from where the tribes and House are.”

The upper chamber wants to make Minnesota sports betting include the local racetracks and professional sports teams – an arrangement that might not win the tribal support.

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