Lobbyists, Legislators Consider Minnesota Sports Betting

Lobbyists, Legislators Consider Minnesota Sports Betting

Minnesota may join its midwestern neighbors as part of the next wave of legal sports betting.

Several lawmakers have pushed for legal betting in Minnesota, even before the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban. Legislation didn’t gain much momentum in the 2018 legislative session, but there remains interest before elected officials return to the state capital in January.

Proponents say betting could be a new revenue source for the state. As state Rep. Pat Garofalo told the Twin City’s Fox affiliate after the Supreme Court ruling, sports betting is “like Sunday liquor sales on cocaine.”

Sports leagues themselves are also taking an interest in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Minnesota Public Radio reports multiple professional sports leagues have assigned lobbyists to the Gopher State, underscoring their viability of sports betting. That includes Scott Ward, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who is registered to represent the NBA, PGA Tour and NBA -the three leagues that have most aggressively embraced legalized sports betting.

State residents won't be able to place a bet on the Vikings this season. Still, these recent reports show Minnesota is squarely among the next crop of states considering legalized sports betting.

Midwest: Sports Betting’s Next Frontier

Minnesotans eyed sports betting before it was technically legal. An increased effort from their neighbors may push them even further.

The Midwest appears to be the next U.S. region to take sports bets. The Mid-Atlantic led the way, spearheaded by Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which all passed sports betting bills in the past 12 months. New York has a somewhat more limited sports betting bill on its books, but could take bets sooner than later.

New England quickly picked up the baton from its southern neighbors. Rhode Island will take its first bet this year, and Connecticut and Massachusetts are also pushing toward legalization.

The Midwest is a logical next frontier.

Early sports betting adaptors have shown a pattern: when one state passes a bill, their neighboring states seem more inclined to follow. This played out in the past with state lotteries and will likely drive sports betting as well.

The region already has one nearby state set to take wagers. West Virginia will take its first bet Sept. 1, giving Ohioans a nearby destination to place a bet.

Not surprisingly, Ohio has filed a sports betting bill in its state legislature. That’s far from unique in the Midwest.

That’s not to mention up to a dozen or more states across the country considering sports betting bills or have already done so. Seven states are slated to take bets by the end of 2018 and up to two dozen could do so within the coming years.

Minnesota appears to have the political capital for a sports betting bill. Reports like the one from MPR show its still a major target for sports leagues.

That means Minnesota could be among the early adopters in the region, and the nation, if lawmakers make progress in 2019. If they fail to act quickly, the state may fall behind.

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