Is Support for Sports Betting in Minnesota on the Decline?

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
Is Support for Sports Betting in Minnesota on the Decline?

For so long, the legalization of sports betting throughout Minnesota has felt fait accompli. Sure, it might not happen right away. But the state came close to squeezing a gambling measure onto their 2022 election ballot. That type of interest doesn't just disappear—unless, of course, support for sports betting in Minnesota is for some reason on the decline. And there's no way that's happening, right?


Post-election feedback shows that the state is more split than ever on the issue of legal sports betting. Not only that, but Minnesota voters might now actually favor zero sports betting as opposed to any at all. 

New Poll Suggests the Future Minnesota Sports Betting Could be in Jeopardy

Shortly after the November elections, a poll was conducted jointly by the Star TribuneMPR News and KARE 11. And the results of it were borderline staggering.

According to the poll, just 45.6 percent of voters favor sports betting in Minnesota—less than the majority needed to push any prospective bill into law. To be sure, this doesn't mean the other 54.4 percent of people flat-out oppose Minnesota sports betting. 

Around 20 percent of the respondents are currently undecided on the subject. That suggests roughly 34.4 percent of voters actually oppose any gambling measures. On some level, that's good news for those waiting to bet on sports in Minnesota. It means those who oppose it technically remain the minority. But the 20 percent of undecided voters make the overarching results an inherently close call.

Troubling still, even if some of the undecided votes flip toward pro-sports-betting legislature, Minnesota will be looking at a decline in support anyway. A late October poll showed that 64 percent of Minnesotans favored sports betting at the time, according to KSTP and SurveyUSA. Could that approval rating have really plummeted by more than 18 percent over the past two months?

Such a steep plunge seems unlikely. But there is a margin of error for every survey when trying to capture the inklings of an entire population. One of these two polls could be way off. We don't know the total sample size for either. Whether that's good news is in the eye of the beholder. We're more skeptical. Even if the more recent poll is rife with error, it still proves to some extent that sports betting in Minnesota isn't a no-brainer topic the House of Representatives and Senate are guaranteed to push through over the next year or so.

Why Public Sentiment May Have Shifted on Minnesota Sports Betting

In two words: sheer exhaustion.

Minnesota has now tried and failed on multiple occasions to legalize some form of sports betting only for it to fall through. While the state hasn't been subject to the advertising spree that grated on voters in California, it has been teased with the prospect of legalization year after year.

Take this year, for example. There was initially an agreement among members in the House of Representatives to support a bill that legalized mobile sports betting through the state's federally recognized tribes. Everyone was so sure the initiative would make it through the Senate that they started wondering whether sports betting throughout Minnesota would be up in time for 2022 NFL playoffs.

Those hopes were quickly dashed this past May when the Senate attempted to amend the terms. Specifically, members of the Republican party pushed to include on-site betting at racetracks as part of the bill. They were also hoping to get sports betting license access for pro sports teams in the market. Both were considered deal-breakers for the tribes, so once they were shoehorned into the bill, the entire agreement fell apart.

The reactions throughout Minnesota at this time were a special meld of exasperated and angry. It felt like Minnesota already had sports betting, to some extent, and that it had been retracted. And whenever voters are subjected to wild shifts in ideologies and policies, there's a tendency to lose all interest and faith in the topic at hand. Look no further than what happened in California—a state that actually got two sports betting bills onto their 2022 ballot. Most assumed one of them would pass, but after contested public battles between the two sides, voter sentiment turned on its head, and both initiatives were shot down.

Minnesota Sports Betting Could Take a While

Much like residents of other states without sports betting, Minnesotans are not without options. They can still sign up with one of the top reviewed online sportsbooks in the industry, and they have the freedom to travel into other states with legal sports betting and place their wagers there.

However, that doesn't render this latest poll any less unsettling, largely because of what it might mean for the future of sports betting in Minnesota. As it stands, Minnesota already needs to get their next sports betting bill finalized, through the House and then through the Senate. That might be a tall order by itself. From there, the sports betting bill in question must make its way on to a ballot, and that's not happening until 2024.

In some ways, this is a blessing in disguise. It gives what appears to be a slumping sports betting sentiment some time to reboot. But if this latest poll stays accurate and Minnesota winds up voting down sports betting legislature, the entire process will get set back another few years.

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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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