Minnesota lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are readying sports wagering legislation that could be introduced as soon as next week. Despite the bipartisan push, it’s going to take some work to pass a comprehensive bill.
State Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) is expected to reintroduce sports betting legislation that he pitched in 2019. State Sen. Karla Bigham (D-Cottage Grove) took to Twitter this week to say she has a comparable bill in the works.
While Bigham’s legislation isn’t officially revealed as of yet, local media reports suggest it provides for North Star state casinos and pari-mutuel establishments to accepts sports bets in the first year of legalization. After a year, bettors could wager remotely only through casinos. Her bill also mandates in-person registration and reloading for mobile accounts. Neighboring Iowa recently scrapped the in-person requirement.
Under Bigham’s bill, “casinos and racetracks would get six percent of the proceeds for onsite wagers, and eight percent for online wagers. The rest would go to the state,” reports the Twin Cities Business Journal.
Of the four states Minnesota shares borders with, only Iowa has a thriving live and legal sports wagering market. South Dakota voters signed off on the activity on Election Day. But it will be confined to gaming venues in Deadwood and the state’s population is small.
While the Hawkeye State is one of the fastest-growing sports betting markets in the US, some Minnesota politicians aren’t moved by that fact, and don’t view their southern neighbor’s success as an impetus to rush sports betting in their own state.
The Minnesota Senate is controlled by Republicans, while the House has a Democratic majority. That could be a sign that Bigham and Garofalo face long odds in getting their bills passed. Signs to that effect already emerged.
At a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce meeting earlier this month, the House minority leader and speaker, as well as the majority and minority leaders, all said sports betting is a no-go in the state, according to KSTP.com. Additionally, there’s already speculation that even if the Bigham or Garofalo bills advance, Gov. Tim Walz (D) won’t sign either into law.
The North Star State has 21 tribal casinos, and it remains to be seen how online relationships would play out, assuming sports betting comes to life in the state.
For operators, the name of the game is entering as many markets as possible to drive top line growth. Along those lines, Minnesota is a relatively attractive area. It’s home to 5.64 million residents and teams from all four of the major domestic sports leagues.
Further lengthening the odds of either bill being signed into law is Minnesota’s fiscal position. For the fiscal year ending June 30, the state is forecast to run a $641 million surplus, while the projected deficit for 2022 and 2023 is just $1.3 billion.
Bigham admits sports betting isn’t a “cash cow” nor will it be a panacea for any budget problems the state could encounter in the future.