A bill seeking to make sports betting legal in Minnesota is making its way through the House, as it has passed through a second committee of the Legislature.
After getting the local Commerce Committee last week, the proposed piece of legislation passed the House Finance Committee on March 15th and is now heading to the Judiciary Committee. The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association also provided its tentative approval of the bill and said that it will continue to monitor any further changes brought to the proposed piece of legislation.
The author of the bill, Representative Zach Stephenson, noted that currently, many residents of the state turn to what he called “shady websites” and some overseas operators offering them ways to circumvent the sports betting ban. He shared that the proposed piece of legislation was aimed at creating a legal marketplace that would displace the black market and would provide transparency, safety and customer protection, which does not exist with such shady online gambling platforms.
Rep. Stephenson’s bill would also allow Native American casinos to offer sports betting services both in-person and online, through mobile apps.
The original version of the House bill would have permitted persons at the age of 18 or older to place bets on sports in the state. However, on Tuesday, the author of the piece of legislation shared he will amend the legal age for sports betting services to 21. Currently, anyone 18 or older is allowed to gamble in casinos under the provisions of Minnesota law.
As revealed by the bill’s sponsor, the tax rate on sports betting revenue would be as low as possible so that local punters are encouraged to stop using any illegal operations offered in the black market by offshore sites or other underground operations and shift their focus to the state’s regulated model.
Opponents Claim Minnesota’s Sports Betting Bill Favors Local Native American Tribes
The bill seeking to legalize sports betting in the state, however, also faced some criticism. The opponents of the proposed piece of legislation warned local lawmakers that allowing sports betting in Minnesota would favor Native American tribes over other gaming interests, not to mention it would deteriorate problem gambling in the state.
According to Anne Krisnik of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, more has to be done in terms of educating local residents about gambling addiction and the possible negative impact it could have on their lives. Ms. Krisnik also said that further effort is needed to support people who have already been suffering from the consequences of their compulsive gambling before the piece of legislation is allowed to proceed further in Minnesota’s Legislature.
The executive director of the Electronic Gaming Group, Sam Krueger, who is among the opponents of the proposed bill, told Minnesota lawmakers that he was not against the legalization of sports betting in general. However, he said that the group he represents is against pieces of legislation that provide its major rivals, Native American tribes, with the opportunity to significantly expand their operations outside of their current jurisdictions.
So far, no less than 30 states and Washington D.C. have already given the green light to some form of sports betting since the groundbreaking ruling of the US Supreme Court in 2018 to end the long-time ban on the practice and allow states to decide for themselves whether to add the new form of gambling to their legal gambling sectors or not. Currently, sports betting is allowed in all neighboring states of Minnesota, as well as in Canada.