Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Hits Snag With Clock Ticking

Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Hits Snag With Clock Ticking
© USA Today

A Minnesota sports betting proposal was approved by the Senate Finance Committee with a 5-4 vote on Thursday. 

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Roger Chamberlain and would permit tribal casinos and the state’s two horse racing facilities to offer online and in-person sports betting. 

Chamberlain’s bill differs from the House version, which only allows the state’s Native American tribes to conduct sports betting.

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Dispute Over Horse Tracks

The Senate bill still faces some challenges with only a few days left in the 2022 legislative session. 

The biggest point of contention is allowing betting at racetracks. 

Andy Platto, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, said in a letter that 10 of the 11 tribes do not support a bill that would allow betting at racetracks. 

“The opposition seeks to protect the gaming industry that today serves as the essential tax base tribal governments and communities rely on,” Platto wrote. 

But Chamberlain is not set to concede, saying that leaving out horse racing tracks on the Senate bill is a “nonstarter.”

“We’re very happy to help protect the tribes’ business model,” he told reporters on Thursday. “I always have been willing to do that, but we cannot allow exclusivity in this case simply because it won’t be a good product.”

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Where The Money Would Go

Revenue from sports betting with the House bill would go towards problem gambling assistance, funding for youth sports across the state and other programs. 

The Senate bill would distribute revenue evenly among mental health initiatives, charitable gambling organizations and event marketing. 

Supporters of the Senate bill also said they are open to funding problem-gambling programs. 

Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller remained optimistic about the bill’s passage. 

“I believe we would have the votes to pass it on the Senate floor,” Miller told reporters on Thursday. “There’s still opportunities for the stakeholders to come together.”

The bill would need approval in both legislative chambers before going to Gov. Tim Walz, pictured, for his consideration.

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