Online sports betting in Minnesota a step closer to legalization as House passes bill 

Minnesota got a step closer to legal online sports betting as its state legislature passed a bill that would allow it in its 21 casinos, which would then enable them to partner with third parties to provide online mobile sports betting.

Proponents of legal sports betting scored a victory this week in Minnesota, but an uphill climb remains before wagering in casinos and online becomes legal in the North Star State, the bill's sponsors tell writer Robb Jeffries. 

Online Sports Betting in Minnesota

HF778, a bipartisan bill legalizing sports betting passed the House of Representatives on Thursday, May 12. If it became law, it would allow Minnesota’s tribal gambling authority to provide in-person and mobile sports betting across the state.

But time is of the essence — both for gamblers and the Legislature, which has less than two weeks remaining in its current session. 

Sports betting has seen rising support across Minnesota with a poll released in April showing 64% support compared to 17% against and 19% undecided. That swell has made its way to both legislative chambers in St. Paul.

Minnesota Sports Betting Legalization Poll

In the nearly four years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Murphy v. NCAA decision that defeated the 1992 PASPA act and opened up avenues for states to legalize the activity, Minnesota has become surrounded by states — including Iowa, and most recently Ontario, Canada — that have already legalized sports betting. 

But it’s no secret illegal sports betting continues to go on in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. 

In all, Rep. Zack Stephenson (pictured below), who co-authored the bill with Rep. Pat Garofalo, estimates that currently about $2 billion changes hands each year in black market betting in Minnesota. 

According to the bill, state tax revenue earned through legalization would be split among spending priorities including market regulation and funding gambling addiction services. 

“The time has come (for legal sports betting in Minnesota),” Stephenson said. 

Senate leadership is less convinced of the Legislature’s progress. Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller told reporters this week there is not enough support for the House bill, and that finding a compromise remains “a work in progress.” 

Garafalo echoed those concerns after passage of the House bill. 

“Today’s vote is an important step forward in bringing legalized sports betting to Minnesota,” Garafalo said. “However, it is clear that the current version of the bill does not have the support needed to pass in the Senate. Now is the time to bring stakeholders together to work on legislation that can pass with broad, bipartisan support in both legislative chambers. Through compromise and working together, we can put a bill on the Governor’s desk that satisfies the concerns of stakeholders and lawmakers.” 

When will there be legal online sports betting in Minnesota?

The Senate has its own sports betting bill, but it remains stalled in the chamber. What’s more, the Senate bill only allows for gambling at two Twin Cities-area horse tracks, and does not have the support of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association. 

MIGA issued a statement in March showing support for the House bill, but has not shown any support for the Senate version. 

“The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association and its 10-member tribal nations support state efforts to authorize sports wagering both at 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 statement said. 

If this bill passes can I bet on sports online in Minnesota?

The House bill would place the governance of sports betting on the state’s tribes. Reservation casinos, of which there are 21, would be allowed to operate in-person betting, and MIGA would be able to contract with third-party providers to allow mobile betting across the state. 

Ultimately, Gov. Tim Walz has said he will not sign any bill without the approval of MIGA, which has had exclusive rights to casino gambling in the state since the 1980s. 

“I think that if the stakeholders can come together and try to find some common ground, where there are opportunities available at the tribal casinos, as well as the tracks, and perhaps if there’s something we can do to help benefit our charities, I think you could still get it done this session,” Miller said. 

How much sports betting revenue has gone to neighboring states?

Garafalo has been an outspoken proponent of sports gambling, even posting in response to a request for comment on the site of sports gambling podcaster Mitch Moss, which asked the lengths sports gambling enthusiasts in illegal states have gone to commute to cast their bets. 

Including a screenshot of his Google Map documenting his journey, Garofalo referenced his trips to Iowa: Exactly 93 miles from my home to Diamond Jo’s in Iowa. Good weather = 1 hr 20 minutes.” 

In the second half of 2021 alone it is estimated that $1.25 billion was wagered in Iowa, resulting in approximately $5 million in taxes, according to KARE 11 news in Minneapolis.  

How much of that sports gambling revenue came from commuting Minnesotans like Garofalo isn’t known. 

“People are seeing the success of sports gambling in other states,” Garofalo told ahead of Thursday’s vote. “Every day that goes by without a regulated market means money leaving Minnesota (and) fewer protections for consumers.” 

Follow for continuing updates on sports gambling legalization in Minnesota and all states. 

In the meantime, why not celebrate 5/14 Forever by securing yourself 5 $100 risk-free bets from PointsBet? Claim them ➡️ here ⬅️.


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