(The Center Square) – Minnesota senators proposed a plan Wednesday to legalize sports betting at tribal casinos and racetracks by the fall of 2023.
The state would tax online gaming revenue as contributions to the general fund. Earmarks for the dollars are yet to be determined, a Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus news release said. Licensing fees would be collected for in-person gaming. Tribal Nations could issue sub-licenses to vendors for online gaming operations, the senators said.
Senators Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, Julia Coleman, R-Waconia, Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, and Mark Koran, R-Chisago, advocated for bringing sports betting to Minnesota at a news conference.
“The proposal here is good for tribes, it’s good for tracks, but most importantly, it’s good for the consumers,” Chamberlain said at the conference. “It gives Minnesotans gaming options for both mobile and brick & mortar and online vendors. It respects the Tribal Nations and provides a revenue stream to the state. And so there’s no reason we shouldn’t start with this proposal and move forward to get this done.”
Koran said legalizing sports betting allows the state to provide consumer protection for the activity, which is legal in many states.
“We don’t force the younger generation to emulate an out-of-state IP address in order to partake, and we keep the revenue in Minnesota,” he said.
Chamberlain said about 60% to 70% or more of sports betting transactions are conducted via mobile device. He said the tribe would control the two online applications, control sub-licenses and get revenue from transactions to them. The state would get the licensing fee from the mobile applications and get sales tax on the transactions conducted off reservations. He said a new compact with tribal authorities would be required.
Bigham said the effort must be bipartisan and involve the tribes.
“It is exciting, and I’m very hopeful we’re going to get this across the finish line this year,” she said.
Chamberlain and Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, said last fall they would push for legalizing sports betting.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed a deal with the Oneida Nation in July 2021 for opening sports betting at a casino near Green Bay, leaving Minnesota surrounded by states (and Canada) that have legalized legal sports betting.
“This means Minnesotans must cross our borders to bet on games or find illegal workarounds with online vendors,” the release said. “Legalizing betting in the state would mean Minnesotans can bet from their own backyard and know they are doing so in a safe manner.”
The U.S. Supreme Court struck a federal ban on states’ legalization of sports betting in 2018. As of Feb. 17, Now 33 states and Washington D.C. allow sports gambling and eight states have active or pre-filed legislation and ballots, AmericanGaming.org reports.