A Big Change is Being Made to the Latest Minnesota Sports Betting Bill

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Mar 12, 2024 08:00 PM
A Big Change is Being Made to the Latest Minnesota Sports Betting Bill

The latest Minnesota sports betting bill is facing yet another series of hurdles that could ultimately derail its entire campaign.

This is basically the status quo when it comes to discussing the merits and disadvantages of sports gambling in The Gopher State. Indeed, many previously painted the legalization of sports betting in Minnesota as a sure thing in 2024. The Democrats currently hold majority control in the major branches, and they’ve generally driven the push for sports wagering in the past.

Yet, just as that sentiment proved faulty last year, it may yet again be inaccurate in 2024. Sentiment on legal Minnesota sports gambling is more split than advertised. Especially inside the Democratic party. That increases the importance of currying favor among Republican officials. And this, in turn, inflates the complexity of negotiations. The state, in essence, is attempting to juggle and placate four different stances: opposition among Democrats; opposition among Republicans; pro-gambling Democrats; and pro-gambling Republicans.

The breadth of this challenge is already beginning to take its toll during 2024 legislative meetings. Most recently, a series of addendums were underwritten to the latest Minnesota sports betting initiative. The reaction to them, as expected, is extremely divisive. And it could upend Minnesota sports gambling hopes.

Live Gambling Option Removed from Minnesota Sports Betting Initiative

Perhaps the most notable change to the sports wagering initiative is the removal of live gambling from the list of approved bets. Under the new terms, customers would not be allowed to bet on sports after games and competitions started.

This is a big deal. And it’s fairly unique. Live betting odds in the United States have become a big driver of gambling revenue over the years, particularly in the prop-wagers market. However, officials in Minnesota have expressed concern over the risks tethered to legal live betting

“It can take a single sporting event and turn it into potentially hundreds of betting opportunities for a consumer and it can lead to loss-chasing and other concerning factors,” republican Senator Jordan Rasmusson of Fergus Falls, who steered this amendment, recently said (per Clay Masters of Minnesota Public Radio). “If we’re taking a product-safety approach of being cautious, this is one thing for us to adopt.”

Senator Rasmusson’s stance isn’t necessarily shared across the board. And Minnesota sports betting lobbyists have argued that this provision could cut projected gambling revenue in half. That estimate has caught the attention of many within the House and Senate.

“No other state’s been foolish enough to try this,” state Rep. Pat Garofal said, according to MPR. “I'm confident that if we can assemble a bipartisan coalition and address this people's concerns that we don't need to worry about that poison pill."

On the bright side, Rep. Garofal clearly believes lawmakers can find a middle ground for the Minnesota sports betting proposal. But this is far from the only issue facing the initiative.

Online Sports Betting Concerns Continue to Define Sports Gambling Talks in Minnesota

Assuming the live-gambling dilemma can be overcome, lawmakers are grappling with another battle. Some supporters of the bill want online sportsbooks in the United States to be granted access to the market. Others, however, do not. And to be sure, it’s not just Republicans providing push-back.

“If I was going to support a sports betting bill it would have to be on-premise sports betting,” Senator Erin Maye-Quade, a Democrat, recently said (via MPR). “I do not think that mobile sports betting is something we should have in the state of Minnesota. It would devastate families, their finances and create so many problems with absolutely zero benefits.”

The current bill that would legalize Minnesota sports betting would allow tribal operators to partner with online odds providers. The bets processed through mobile sportsbooks would be taxed at a 10 percent rate.

That setup is considered the middle ground. Or rather, we should say it was considered the middle ground. The concept has seen its overarching support dwindle—though that could be the result of lawmakers cooling on the initiative for other reasons, too.

The Key to Minnesota Sports Betting Legalization May be Regulation

Think this covers all the hangups in the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate? Think again. Plenty of officials have also expressed strong opposition to the Minnesota sports betting initiative because it doesn’t do enough to prevent gambling addiction. 

As of now, it looks like a set amount of the proceeds would be allocated towards problem betting funds. That’s standard stuff for just about every state. Those on the fence, though, want to see more regulations and resources put in place. 

“We understand that there's a need for revenue,” Susan Sheridan Tucker, executive director of the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling explained. “But if we're going to expand gambling, which is a known activity that causes addiction to a certain number of the population, then we need to have an equitable level of services.”

It’s not yet known what additive resources would say those currently on the fence. Sheridan Tucker mentioned requiring schools to provide anti-gambling materials to help counteract the influence on younger generations. This is something lawmakers recently added to the sports betting policies in Virginia. And it’s believed to be an implementation that will grow in popularity.

Whether this or another form of regulation and prevention gets added to the 2024 Minnesota sports betting legislation remains to be seen. But even if it does, there can be no guarantees. Despite initial optimism, it’s become clear the path to legal Minnesota sports betting is littered with more hurdles than anticipated.

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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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