Minnesota Tribes Now Support Sports Betting Expansion

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Minnesota Tribes Now Support Sports Betting Expansion
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The Minnesota tribes have traditionally been opponents of expanded gambling, including regulated and legalized sports betting sites.

It’s been one of the major hurdles proponents of sports betting have faced as lawmakers in the state have attempted to join its neighboring states in legalizing sports wagering.

But the tribes’ stance is now changing.

Tribes Endorsing Gambling Expansion Now

On Monday, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) endorsed expanded gambling that includes the legalization to authorize sports betting at brick-and-mortar casinos and online.

“The MIGA and its 10-member tribal nations support state efforts to authorize sports wagering at both tribal gaming properties and through online/mobile platforms and believe tribes are best positioned to offer this new market to the state’s consumers,” the MIGA said in a statement. “MIGA and its members will be monitoring state legislation and look forward to working with other stakeholders.”

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Rep. Zack Stephenson discussed the House version of legislation to legalize sports betting in Minnesota. Stephenson mentioned he spent months meeting with the tribes, professional sports teams, universities and problem gambling experts on the House bill.

The bill will get a hearing in the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee today. According to Stephenson, it’s the first time a sports wagering bill has received a hearing in the state Legislature.

"It's been a long road to get to this point, and there's a long road in front of us," Stephenson said at Monday’s news conference. "But we've got a lot of momentum, we've got a lot of support across the state. I can comfortably say that the stakeholders that I've talked to are interested in seeing this happen, and happen this year, and we’ve also got bipartisan support.”

Both Sides Give Tribes Control

Both the House and Senate bills would allow the tribes to control the Minnesota sports betting market. The bills would legalize in-person wagering at tribal casinos, while the tribes would also oversee the online operators who enter the state.

The House bill would have taxes from online sports wagering go to regulation, problem gambling programs and financing youth sports and other programming. Meanwhile, details on where the tax revenue on the Senate bill are still being decided.

"It's a good day in Minnesota to show some progress on transitioning Minnesota from the black market of unregulated activity to a regulated market with consumer transparency, consumer protections, as well as defunding organized crime and money laundering," Rep. Pat Garofalo said. “This is a very positive first step. No one should have any qualms about this.”

Legalized Sports Betting in Neighboring States

All of Minnesota’s neighboring states have legalized sports betting and are currently taking bets. North Dakota and Wisconsin each permit in-person sports betting at tribal casinos, while South Dakotans can place wagers at tribal casinos in the city of Deadwood.

To the south, Iowa has a full mobile sports betting market with numerous sportsbooks, giving its residents multiple options to place their bets.

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