Several key stakeholders in Minnesota look at be aligned in their objectives to legalize MN sports betting as there’s renewed hope for the bill’s chances in 2023 legislature. The author of the bill HF 2000 is Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL) District: 35 A.

The companion bill, SF 1949 was filed by Sen. Matt D. Klein (53, DFL) and has been referred to State and Local Government and Veterans in the Senate.

What makes this year’s Minnesota bill different?

Last year, a very similar bill was filed by Rep. Stephenson, attempting to give tribes exclusive sports betting access, but was blocked by the Senate. Interestingly, the Senate was Republican held whilst the House was DFL held. After the November 8th elections, however, the DFL now hold the Senate too so Rep. Stephenson and Sen. Klein expect enough bipartisan support to push the bill through this year.

This year, Stephenson’s proposal includes a letter from the state’s six professional sports teams, stating “the teams support tribal sports betting exclusivity and empowering all tribes to offer statewide mobile sports betting”. The teams are as follows:

  • Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)
  • Minnesota Lynx (WNBA)
  • Minnesota Vikings (NFL)
  • Minnesota Wild (NHL)
  • Minnesota Twins (MLB)
  • Minnesota Twins (MLS)

This bill proposes exclusivity for Minnesota’s 11 recognized tribes, with each also receiving an online license to offer statewide mobile sports betting in Minnesota.

What is the commercial gambling landscape like in Minnesota?

Commercial casino operations are prohibited in Minnesota through statutory prohibitions on gambling activities. Cardrooms, however, are legal and permitted at the state’s licensed racetracks. Given the state has a large tribal gaming presence, with several casinos run across the state, it is unsurprising that the tribes hold a lot of the cards tightly for gaming expansion in the state.

An alternate bill proposed by Sen. Miller looked to broaden sports betting across to other commercial entities within the state, including horse racing tracks and professional sports teams. Miller was the leader of the Republican Senate that blocked Stephenson’s bill last year, and his bill to provide other commercial entities with access to sports betting is unlikely to land well with MN tribes.

What lessons can MN learn from other states?

Minnesota is not the first, nor the last state where tribal gaming interests clash with commercial interests in passing of legislation. The highest profile example is undoubtedly California, in which November 2022 saw two CA sports betting propositions go to public ballot.

Proposition 26 was to allow sports betting to happen just in-person at tribal casinos and at the horse racing tracks in California. It was also an expansion on tribal casino gaming to allow table games, but ultimately did not pass.

Proposition 27 was brutally voted down by 83 percent to 17 percent. The proposition was funded by large commercial operators such as FanDuel and DraftKings, and was the most expensive marketing campaign in a ballot history. The power of tribal opposition resulted in brutal defeat for the proposition and upwards of $300 million in advertising spend frittered away.