Gambling in Minnesota is broken down into four main categories: charitable gambling (such as pull-tabs, raffles and bingo), the Minnesota Lottery, pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, and tribal gaming. In addition to these betting provisions, various card games, including poker, can be played for small stakes (typically $200 or less).
As you can see, the above categories cover a range of possibilities and, essentially, means that Minnesota is a gambling-friendly state. However, it’s important to note that legislation didn’t start until 1945. Being something of a late starter means that the North Star State hasn’t kept pace with technology. In other words, online gambling in Minnesota is illegal at this point in time. However, given that the state has been progressive in other areas over the last century, there’s a possibility that lawmakers will want to continue this momentum and get connected.
In fact, when you look through the list of recent innovations such as electronic betting and online lotteries, there’s clearly a desire to move with the times. So, even though Minnesota online gambling sites aren’t legal right now, the evidence suggests a change could be inevitable.
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Social Casino Offers Only Available
Despite allowing tribal casino gaming, Minnesota online casinos could be a long way off. Indeed, when you look at the current set up, tribal casinos have a fairly limited scope in terms of gaming options. What’s more, state legislation currently says the following:
"Online sports betting and online casinos that take your money and offer prizes via the web are illegal in Minnesota. Not only is it a crime to participate, there are consumer protection concerns as well.”
Based on this, it’s not clear when real money online casinos in Minnesota will become a reality.
Social casinos are completely legal in Minnesota, though, and available on the internet or as an app and feature all the popular casino games, including slots, blackjack, video poker and roulette. It is free to play. While you cannot win money playing games at social casinos, the sites like WinStar, LuckyLand and Chumba casino typically offer sweepstakes (games of chance) with prizes that can include real money jackpots.
As it stands, there is daily fantasy sports operational in Minnesota, though it hasn't been technically approved by the state legislature. A bill to define DFS as a game of skill was unexpectedly shot down in April 2018, leaving the active operators in a state of limbo. However, given the clear desire to regulate, it Minnesota daily fantasy sites could be legalized in 2019 and players are still free to play sites like FanDuel and DraftKings without any fear of repercussions.
Although online poker in Minnesota is in the same boat as casino gaming, the outlook may be slightly more positive. Firs, poker has its own legal standing within the state’s constitution. Given that there is at least some acknowledgment that card games are a separate entity to casino games, there’s a chance online poker legislation will happen at some point. Indeed, if advocates can argue it’s a game of skill, Minnesota online poker sites could become a reality in the future.
In April 2018, a draft bill was submitted for review and Rep. Pat Garofalo quickly became one of its chief supporters. What’s interesting about the bill is that it not only pushed for legal sports betting in Minnesota, it contained a clause for mobile wagers. Unfortunately, the legislature adjourned in May and a call to action wasn’t attached to the bill. However, given the initial support, it’s likely a new bill will be introduced in 2019, which could mean the start of offline and online sports betting in Minnesota.
Minnesota lawmakers again pitch legal sports betting in St. Paul. Sponsors tout the bill's prospects, but significant hurdles remain to passage.
Minnesota trials online lottery and instant win games. However, the innovation split political opinion and the trial was abruptly stopped in 2015.
Electronic pull-tab games were permitted inside football stadiums. This desire to embrace modern technology is the reason Minnesota online gambling could soon become a reality.
Card rooms offering poker were regulated. Again, the current law dictates that these must be small stakes games.
Canterbury Downs was given permission to host small stakes card games ($200 or less).
Tribal casinos were given the right to offer blackjack.
One year after the Indian Gaming Regulatory act was implemented at a federal level, Minnesota signed an agreement with seven tribes. The initial compact allowed venues to offer video gambling, something that coincided with the regulation of nationwide Simulcast betting.
Pari-mutuel betting was approved following a five-year debate on the topic. Within two years, the first racecourse, Canterbury Downs, opened its doors. More than two decades later, Minnesota’s second racetrack, Running Aces, went live in 2008. Today, there are still two active horse racing venues within the state.
Prior to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, 25 U.S.C. sec. 2701 (Act), tribes in Minnesota began hosting their own high stakes bingo games. The innovation would lead to seven years’ worth of legal battles between the state and its tribal factions.
The Minnesota State Lottery is launched. Initially offering local draws, the governing body is now responsible for overseeing scratch games and multi-state lotteries such as the Powerball.
Governor Luther Youngdahl outlaws slot machines despite their popularity.
The state’s first gambling laws are introduced. The initial legislation was designed to cover charitable games which are broken down into the following categories: “The five forms of lawful gambling, when conducted by a licensed charitable organization or a 501(C)(3) non-profit under the supervision of the Gambling Control Board, are Pull-tabs, Bingo, Raffles, Paddlewheels and Tip boards.”
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