Key Questions Facing the Legalization of Minnesota Sports Betting in 2024

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
Key Questions Facing the Legalization of Minnesota Sports Betting in 2024

As the next round of Minnesota sports betting debates gets set to take place at the 2024 legislature meetings, it’s time to take stock of the biggest determining factors.

This can be difficult for some states. Certain places have yet to even discuss the legalization of sports betting. Others have shot down numerous attempts for a variety of reasons. It’s a different story for The Land of 10,000 Lakes.

New pushes for sports betting in Minnesota are made just about every year. Indeed, they are among the states that have attempted to legalize sports gambling the most without ever successfully doing so. 

On the one hand, this can be frustrating. A Minnesota sports betting bill invariably pops up every year, but it never pans out. That gets tedious. On the other hand, it also gives us intimate knowledge into the biggest roadblocks and issues that define the subject. That’s pretty useful this time of year.

The Minnesota legislature is scheduled to begin meeting on February 12, 2024. They will then adjourn on May 20, 2024. And with those dates fast approaching, we decided to pore over the biggest questions, concerns, factors, etc. that will come to define this year’s Minnesota sports betting conversation.

Will Another New Minnesota Sports Betting Bill be Proposed in 2024? 

This is the most important question to ask. It will effectively determine whether Minnesota sports betting gets legalized at all. 

More than a few people wondered whether sports gambling advocates would take a year off after last session’s gutting defeat. That can sometimes happen in these situations. Both sides take a beat to recalibrate. They will then circle back in two years’ time rather than one.

Perhaps members of the House of Representatives and Senate eventually get to that point. But they’re not there yet.

State legislators have repeatedly reiterated that a 2024 Minnesota sports betting bill will be under consideration. On top of that, a handful of legislators are optimistic that said proposal will make it past both the House and Senate. 

Tracing this optimism is difficult. But it likely lies with the Democratic control of the House and Senate. They have historically been the party more likely to advocate and approve sports betting bills.

Will Minnesota Online Sports Betting be Legalized as Part of the 2024 Proposal?

Whenever a state is discussing the legalization of sports gambling, everyone invariably wants to know if they’ll let online sportsbooks from the USA operate inside the market. There’s no avoiding the interest. Especially these days.

This year, over 80 percent of all legal bets placed in the United States are projected to be processed through an online sportsbook. In some parts of the country, this share is well above 90 percent. When that many wagers are running through mobile applications, their legality in new regions will of course dominate headlines. 

Other states like Wisconsin, Montana and Delaware have legalized only in-person sports betting. They do this to try insulating tribal casinos against corporate online sportsbooks. 

Increasingly, though, more and more states are warming up to online sports betting. And Minnesota is among them. Last year’s sports betting bill called for the legalization of online operators, too.

Granted, we don’t technically know whether the 2024 Minnesota sports betting initiative will feature online sportsbooks. But last year’s bill nearly made it through both the House and Senate. We’d expect a near-identical framework to be proposed this time around.

Do Minnesota Tribes Support the Legalization of Sports Betting?

Like most other states, Minnesota’s gaming rights belong exclusively to tribal casinos. This inevitably gives the tribes major influence when it comes to the legalization of sports betting. They can make or break an entire proposal. If you don’t have them on board, then you typically don’t have a path to the legalization of sports betting.

In The Land of 10,000 Lakes, tribal support generally isn’t an issue. The state’s 11 tribes are more than open to the legalization of retail sports betting. More critically, they have shown a willingness to co-sign online sports betting in Minnesota

The latter is a big deal. Tribal opposition has interfered with online legalization elsewhere. If Minnesota’s tribes remain open to working with corporate online sportsbooks, there’s very little that could derail the state’s next sports betting attempt.

What’s the Biggest Roadblock Preventing the Legalization of Minnesota Sports Betting?

Believe it or not, last year’s answer to this question was…horse race tracks. That figures to be the case in 2024.

Minnesota horse racing tracks want to be included as licensed sportsbook operators in any gambling legislation. They argue their business model has been adversely impacted by online sports betting in the USA. Legalizing it inside the market while giving tribes retail licenses would threaten to capsize horse racing tracks. 

The state’s tribes oppose this view. If they are allowing sportsbooks operating in the United States to enter the market, they don’t also want to compete with horse racing tracks. 

Both sides of the fence have their vocal supporters in the Senate. That’s where the 2023 Minnesota sports betting bill was ultimately derailed. And it was because of this issue.

Lawmakers tried addressing the problem by adding in language that gave horse racing tracks a cut of the state’s sports betting revenue. By doing this, they ensured the tracks reaped the benefits of Minnesota sports gambling while preventing them from emerging as direct competition to the tribes. Many thought this was an effective middle ground. The race tracks disagreed.

It’s likely that lawmakers will revisit a similar framework in 2024. But can they find a happy medium that convinces horse race tracks they don’t need sports betting licenses? Can they sell the tribes on allowing race tracks to get Minnesota sports betting licenses? Will the whole thing fall apart because attempts to compromise fail? We’re just a few short weeks away from the 2024 state legislature meetings. Soon after they begin, we should have our answer.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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