Home > Sports betting > Minnesota wagering bill moves, but unlikely to get out of legislature

Minnesota wagering bill moves, but unlikely to get out of legislature

| By Jill R. Dorson
The Minnesota house taxes committee moved forward a legal sports betting bill today (30 April) with the belief that it won't get to the governor's desk. The committee voted, 12-9, to send an amended version of HF 2000 to the ways and means committee with about three weeks remaining in the session.
minnesota sports betting bill

The wagering bill moves forward against an unusual backdrop. Last week Democratic State Senator Nicole Mitchell was arrested on burglary charges. The senate has taken away her committee and voting privileges. The Democrats had a one-vote majority in the senate prior to the arrest. Now, any bill will require bi-partisan support.

“With the nonsense bordering on criminal in the senate, I don’t think this bill will get out of the legislature,” Representative Bjorn Olson said.

The bill would allow for statewide mobile wagering with platforms tethered to tribes. It would give the tribes exclusivity and earmark $625,000 for the state’s horse tracks.

Several committee members suggested that the house had given “false hope” to veterans and charity organisations that would benefit if the bill becomes law. The reference was to $40m that would be directed to the state’s charities for tax relief that was part of a deal that bill sponsor Zack Stephenson cut.

Charities won’t get $40m if bill fails in Minnesota

Three amendments, including one that would have stripped everything from the bill except the $40m earmark, were defeated. The details of Stephenson’s A32 amendment, which passed, were not immediately available.

Stephenson has been championing legal sports betting for four sessions. The charity deal solved one roadblock to passage. Others remain, and the issue has been complicated by issues with the state’s two horse tracks and tribes. At least two lawsuits between the tracks and tribes are pending. In addition, the Minnesota Racing Commission voted to allow historic horse racing machines at the tracks to boost revenue. But Stephenson has a bill to prohibit such machines.

On Tuesday, multiple groups, including the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling, representatives from charity and veterans groups and an Underdog Sports executive spoke in support of the bill. Stern, Underdog SVP of government affairs and partnerships, spoke in favour as the bill now includes regulating and taxing daily fantasy sports.

Stephenson not ready to give up as wagering bill moves

Ahead of the vote to move the bill forward, Representative Jon Koznick said “the bill doesn’t quite cross the finish line. I think it’s running out of steam and dying a slow death.”

But Stephenson, who says it’s clear Minnesotans want legal wagering, isn’t ready to stop campaigning.

“I appreciate the conversation today although not necessarily the prognostication,” he said. “And nothing is ever dead until sine die because we’ve seen that over and over again. So we’ll keep working it.”

The legislature is set to adjourn on 20 May.

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