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Minnesota governor vows to pass betting bill at start of 2024 session

| By Richard Mulligan
Minnesota governor Tim Walz has confirmed he would approve the legalisation of sports betting if lawmakers can progress legislation during the 2024 session.

The legislative year began at the start of this week, and a first reading of Senate Bill 3803 has already taken place. The Minnesota Sports Betting Act 2.0, proposed by Representative Jeremy Miller, would allow Native American tribes, racetracks and teams to offer in-person wagering at their facilities.

According to the bill, which has been referred to the State and Local Government and Veterans Committee, a state commissioner would oversee betting in Minnesota. The commissioner would issue up to 11 sports betting operator licences, up to 11 platform provider licences and sports betting supplier licences.

Licence holders would also have the option to operate retail betting on the premises of horse racing tracks or professional sports stadiums in Minnesota, pursuant to a partnership agreement with the track operator or sports team.

Bill 3803 would impose a tax of 15% on sports betting net revenue received on wagers placed.

“We are the only state in the region where it remains fully illegal to bet on sports,” Miller said in a statement. “This proposal is good for the tribes, it’s good for the tracks, it’s good for the professional sports teams. Most importantly, it’s good for the folks who would like to bet on sports here in Minnesota.”

2023 betting bills fell short

In 2023, there were multiple bills which aimed to legalise sports betting but each fell by the wayside. The bills differed on key points, including the level to which the state’s tribes would have exclusive access to licences.

Miller said changes made to electronic pull tabs during the last session raised significant concerns from charities across the state.

“Restoring some of the functions that were eliminated in last year’s omnibus tax bill would address some of their concerns,” he added.

Speaking to the public and media ahead of the session, leading lawmakers indicated they expect a sports betting bill to pass in 2024. House Speaker Melissa Hortman put the chances as high as 60-40.

Governor Walz said he would give ascent to legislation. However, he wants to be assured that an agreement can be reached with state tribes and other interested parties.

“I think the issue still is if they can get a bill through the house and senate that meets all those constituency needs,” Walz told reporters on Monday. “If they do, I’ve said I will sign it.”

Minnesota has teams in each of North America’s major sports leagues, including the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings.

Early progress in Alabama

there is optimism that legal betting could soon be legalised in alabama

Meanwhile, a plan to allow lottery, casinos and legal betting in Alabama has advanced in the state’s house of representatives.

The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee approved the two-bill package on voice votes on Wednesday.

HB152 is an enabling bill that spells out how lottery, casinos, and sports betting would operate. HB151 is a constitutional amendment that would regulate, license and tax certain limited forms of gaming activity. The latter would require voter approval in November.

HB152 would create an Alabama Gaming Commission that would license the casinos and include a law enforcement division. The Legislative Services Agency estimated the state could receive as much as $900m from the lottery, casinos and sports betting. That includes revenue that would come from a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

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