How 2022 Election Results Impact Future of Minnesota Legal Sports Betting

How 2022 Election Results Impact Future of Minnesota Legal Sports Betting

The issue of sports betting in Minnesota has ranked among the biggest teases in the United States. They have seemed on the verge of legalizing it a handful of times, only for the latest and greatest initiative to fall through. Each time, the reasons for the bill's collapse are similar, if not outright identical. And now, on the heels of a shift during the 2022 elections, we're left to grapple with the future of Minnesota legal sports betting yet again.

It was always expected the state would introduce new sports betting legislation entering 2023. Whether that next measure would pass is a different story. But its presentation was a given.

That may not be the case anymore. One of the primary driving forces behind Minnesota sports betting the past few years was voted out of their post on November 8. Will their successor treat the legalization of online and/or in-person gaming with the same consistency? Or urgency? And will Minnesota sign sports betting into law if they do?

Like always, the answer is uncertain.

Biggest Supporter of Minnesota Legal Sports Betting Loses Election

Minnesota State Senator Roger Chamberlain, a Republican, lost his bid for a fifth term on November 8. This did not come as a terribly large surprise. Minnesota has become progressively bluer over the years, and the popular vote ended up going to Heather Gustafson, the Democratic challenger.

This has been seen as a mixed bag for the future of sports betting in Minnesota. On the one hand, Gustafson, a former history teacher, did not make legal sports betting a primary focus of her campaign. On the other hand, Democrats throughout Minnesota are usually among the most vocal supporters of sports betting.

In the end, we actually believe this will be a good thing for Minnesota sports betting. Democrats already controlled the state's House of Representatives. They now control the Senate, too. That should make it easier to pass a sports betting bill and put it to a state-wide vote during the 2024 elections.

Of course, skeptics will note that Minnesota's biggest issue on this subject was almost never bi-partisan support. In fact, the last impasse faced by Minnesota sports betting had very little to do with Democrats vs. Republicans and more to do with the state's tribal casinos.

The Largest Obstacle Facing the Legalization of Sports Betting in Minnesota

During the last round of sports betting negotiations, now-former Senator Chamberlain tried to amend the bill to include legal sports betting at Minnesota race tracks. The original proposal, which passed with a 70-57 vote, never once mentioned race tracks. As it turns out, what he thought was a small change mutated into a complete deal-breaker.

Democrats more than anyone else have been the ones working with and looking out for the interests of Minnesota tribes on legal sports betting. And it is widely known that the tribes prefer not to compete for sports betting business with race tracks. They believe it infringes upon their casino gaming business model, and they were already going to have to compete with online sportsbooks for gambling clients.

Chamberlain's addendum almost totally soured the support he was gaining from many Democrats. The hope is that Senator Heather Gustafson, who once again is a Democrat, won't run into such issues. She will know enough to prioritize terms that Minnesota tribes support or at least have the connections necessary to negotiate changes before actually trying to make them.

To be clear, this doesn't mean the next Minnesota legal sports betting bill is a lock to pass. If race tracks are left out of the equation, they could lobby the Republicans to hold the initiative at a stalemate unless they're included. And if that works, there is a chance the entire initiative falls apart once more.

Sports Betting Coming to Minnesota in 2023?

There are no guarantees when it comes to Minnesota sports betting. The Indian Gaming Association already released a statement in the aftermath of elections that said they will be re-evaluating their options entering 2023.

Some industry experts have taken this to mean tribes will demand exclusivity, and that the legalization of online sports betting will once again become an issue that derails the next bill. Minnesota may not be able to get a bill approved without meeting both sets of criteria.

In the event the attempt to legalize online sports betting in Minnesota fails yet again, the alternative options will remain the same. Minnesotans can travel to a nearby state with legal sports betting, or they can choose to sign up with one of the reputable sites from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks.

With that said, we don't mean to paint a pessimistic outlook. Senator Heather Gustafson already told Gaming Today she hopes to discuss the sports betting issue in January, and that she's hopeful all parties can come to an agreement. "I have built up relationships with the stakeholders and I continue to support what consumers want," she explained, "which is the option to play at brick-and-mortar and online venues, and through tribal nations and tracks, with commonsense protections for everyone involved."

Does this mean a 2023 Minnesota sports betting bill will definitely pass? We're better off not taking a guess. This state has already dangled legalization only to pull it back. But at least we know sports betting remains on Minnesota's agenda post-election.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that meets all of your sports betting needs: 

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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