Iowa Envy Has Some Minnesota Pols Looking to Revive Stalled Sports Betting Legislation

Posted on: September 10, 2019, 12:15h. 

Last updated on: September 10, 2019, 01:05h.

Sports betting recently commenced in Iowa, and that appears to be all the impetus some politicians in neighboring Minnesota need to resuscitate similar legislative efforts in the North Star State.

Minnesota Rep. Pat Garofalo really supports sports betting. The question is do enough of his colleagues? (Image: LA Times)

Earlier this year, a committee in the Minnesota Senate pushed a bill that would permit sports wagering at the state’s tribal gaming properties and two racetracks, legislation that also included provisions for online and mobile betting. But the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) voiced opposition to the expansion of off-reservation gaming options.

The senate effort, sponsored by Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, couldn’t advance, and an accompanying bill in the Minnesota House couldn’t even get time for a hearing. Chamberlain is pledging to revive the bill during the 2020 legislative session.

Iowa is doing it, for God’s sake,” he said in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio. “That should be embarrassment enough for us to start doing it up here.”

One Iowa casino recently threw salt in the wounds of Minnesota supporters of sports betting. When Boyd Gaming’s Diamond Jo Casino in Worth, Iowa christened its sportsbook last month, former Minnesota Vikings star and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Randle was on hand for the opening ceremony.

That move caught the attention of at least one Minnesota policymaker.

“A sportsbook in Iowa is having former MINNESOTA VIKING John Randle make their 1st bet. Not someone from Iowa, someone from MINNESOTA,” said Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington on Twitter. “Do elected officials in Minnesota now understand the consequences or refusing to take legislative action on sports gambling?!”

Legislative Support

Garofalo is supporting companion legislation in the house to what Chamberlain is pushing in the senate. The house member, who actively discusses sports betting and having conversations about cannabis legalization on his Twitter feed, praised Iowa for getting its sports betting effort operational in advance of the 2019 football season.

“This is a big win for the hospitality and tourism industries of Iowa,” said Garofalo in an interview with KSTP News. “The lack of legislative action in Minnesota regarding a popular item like sports gambling makes zero sense. Iowa is smart to capitalize on the stupidity at Minnesota’s State Capitol.”

The representative is dedicated to the sports betting cause in the North Star State. Since Aug. 22, the date of the aforementioned Twitter remark, Garofalo has posted nearly a dozen tweets related to sports or sports wagering, including one post last Saturday that appeared to be overt gambling advice.

“Michigan started at -2000 on the MoneyLine. Now -240 on the real-time money line. Take Michigan. Heavy,” said the politician in a Sept. 7 tweet.

Geographic Rivalries

Minnesota borders four states – Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, but only Iowa permits sports betting. Comparable legislative proposals died in the Dakotas this year, and Wisconsin didn’t even consider a related bill, potentially providing more motivation for Minnesota to beat those three states to the sports betting punch.

The state may not need the extra motivation. Some reports indicate the parking lots of Iowa casinos were loaded with Minnesota license plates when the sportsbooks opened there last month. Data suggests sports bettors will cross state lines to put action on home state teams. For example, Iowa casinos reported heavy action on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Week 1 of the college football season. Nebraska borders Iowa and doesn’t permit sports betting.