For nearly the last half-decade, multiple attempts have been made to bring sports betting to Minnesota. Each try, however, has failed—sometimes in spectacular fashion. The latest attempt to bring legal sports betting to the Land of 10,000 Lakes was no exception. Though many were hopeful the state would change their tune, they failed to pass the 2022 Minnesota sports betting bill.
This most recent rejection has most likely set back the gambling agenda for a couple of years. Minnesota won't have a real opportunity to legalize sports betting again until 2024, if not later.
Given how many times the state has rebuffed sports betting overtures, though, it'd be reasonable to assume Minnesota residents are by and large against its legalization. After all, state policies are supposed to be reflective of constituents. Surely Minnesota would take the issue of legal sports betting more seriously if the people who live in the state supported it.
Or maybe not.
A new poll for KSTP by SurveyUSA shows that Minnesotans aren't materially against legal sports betting. On the contrary, the results prove just the opposite.
Most Minnesotans Support Legal Sports Betting
According to the poll conducted by SurveyUSA, 64 percent of adults age 21 or older support the legalization of sports betting. What's more, 57 percent of those who participated in that same poll said they want online sports betting to be legalized, as well. And on top of that, 57 percent of the people polled also said they believe sports betting should be available at both tribal casinos and horse tracks.
These are overwhelming results that point to a very clear conclusion: People in Minnesota want legal sports betting...in all possible forms.
Critics will maintain that these polls are imperfect. Around 650 adults participated in this one. Is that sample size truly representative of the entire Minnesota population, which sits at nearly six million people?
The answer is complicated. That said, the answer is also yes. Companies like SurveyUSA have done studies to show how many people must participate in a poll for it to be reflective of the larger population. As a general rule of thumb in these cases, you want 100 people for every 1 million of the population size. This poll not only exceeded that ratio, but the results are so pro-gambling that they qualify as definitive even after weighting the margin for error.
To that end, we have to ask the question: If so many people in Minnesota want legal sports betting, why hasn't the state acquiesced yet?
There is a Sports Betting Turf War in Minnesota
Minnesota's situation is actually not unique. There are many states that have yet to embrace legal sports betting even though the majority of their residents support it. And when that's the case, it's usually an access issue.
This is exactly what's at play in Minnesota. Tribal operated casinos want exclusive rights to offer sports betting on-site, without any competition from online sportsbooks or race tracks. This has naturally led to push-back from commercial bookmakers and in-state race tracks, both of which want the ability to provide sports betting services.
But sharing the market is apparently a no-go for casinos. In the latest bid to bring legal sports betting to Minnesota, the proposal nixed the inclusion of online gambling but allowed for just two of the state's race tracks to offer their own services. That bill was shot down amid pressure from the tribal casinos precisely because they weren't granted exclusivity.
Technically speaking, the stance of tribal casinos shouldn't matter. Their gaming compact with the state doesn't call for exclusivity; it's different from the agreement the Seminole tribe reached with Florida, for example. And yet, tribal casinos in Minnesota hold a ton of political clout. What they want matters to a handful of lawmakers, and those same individuals spearheaded the decision to shoot down the latest legal sports betting proposal.
The Future of Legal Sports Betting in Minnesota
Compromise in Minnesota feels inevitable. Too much money is at stake for everyone involved for this stalemate to continue. At some point, many believe the casinos will prioritize any sports betting business over the ability to be the only sports betting business.
Nothing is guaranteed, though. Tribal casinos understand most sports bets are placed online these days. So if they allow Minnesota to open up the licensing doors to commercial operators in addition to race tracks, their potential profit will be adversely impacted in a big way. And if tribal casinos wouldn't let a bill pass that allowed for just two race tracks to offer sports betting, why would they ever okay a proposal that enables an even larger number of competitors?
Truth be told, we don't have a good answer to this question. The state will have to find a way to ensure casinos are amply compensated amid the addition of online sportsbooks and betting services at race tracks if they want the tribes to change their tune. To date, there has been no traction on a proposal that would do this.
All of which is to say, it will be a while before legal sports betting comes to Minnesota. In the meantime, people from The Land of 10,000 Lakes have the ability to register with a site from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks, many of which accept new users no matter where they live.
Beyond that, though, Minnesotans have only two other options: travel outside the state to bet on sports or wait out the standoff between tribes and pro-online-betting policymakers—a stalemate that likely won't end before 2024, if it ends at all.
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