Minnesota lawmakers go to Diamond Jo Casino in Iowa to see how the state and casino implemented sports betting.

  • A Minnesota sports betting bill was introduced in the legislature in early 2019, but a lack of tribal support doomed the proposal.
  • The Diamond Jo Casino in Iowa is only 10 miles south of the Minnesota border.
  • 2020 will be an election year for all Minnesota legislative members.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – A Minnesota sports betting bill wasn’t able to pass through the legislature earlier this year. But, that doesn’t mean MN legislators aren’t able to find a way to legally bet on the Vikings.

Last Sunday, MN Rep. Pat Garofalo coordinated a trip to Diamond Jo Casino in Iowa. Garofalo traveled down with three dozen MN lawmakers to show them what legal sports betting looks like in person. He was also one of the co-sponsors of the bill MN HF 1278, also known as the Safe and Regulated Sports Gambling Act.

His bill ultimately failed to gain any traction within the state House due in large part to opposition by the state’s Native American tribes. Tribes hold a great deal of leverage in any gambling expansion initiatives because of their gaming compact with the state.

This was not an obstacle for Iowa, which legalized and launched both online and land-based sportsbooks in 2019. Diamond Jo Casino opened its sportsbook to the public on August 29. It is located only 10 miles south of the MN border and is about a two-hour drive from Minneapolis.

“Iowa is well-positioned due to Minnesota’s lack of action. And you’re going to see a steady increase in Minnesotans choosing to spend their entertainment dollars in Iowa as opposed to Minnesota,” said Garofalo to the Star Tribune.

Minnesotan’s have been traveling down to Diamond Jo Casino since the start of football season in order to bet on the Vikings, Twins and other MN home teams. Iowa is also already starting to see some of the profits of the industry with about $146,000 in taxes paid to the state all within the first month of introducing land-based and online sportsbooks.

Future Of Sports Betting In Minnesota

Garofalo is not the only lawmaker that is leading the cause for legalizing sports betting in Minnesota. MN Senator Roger Chamberlain also made his support publicly clear in a press release sent out by the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus on Monday.

“You should be able to place that bet right here in Minnesota. I have a bill that would make it legal,” wrote Chamberlain.

However, there will a couple of obstacles for that bill or any other MN sports betting bill to pass through the legislature. First and foremost, it will have to have the support of the state’s tribes. Their stance this year was to take a wait and see approach and to study other states that have legalized the activity first.

The next will be getting support from other members of both the state House and Senate. The next legislative session will be in 2020, which is an election year for all 201 legislative members. Each member will likely have their own priorities in mind.

This may not stop Rep. Chamberlain from introducing a bill when the legislature reconvenes next February.

“Inevitably, critics will say that sports betting isn’t important. Yes, I understand that there are serious matters to address. I assure you, we haven’t forgotten about the turmoil at the Department of Human Services or rampant of fraud in our childcare assistance program. Those issues will still be priorities, just like we will continue to work on lowering health care costs and providing a great education to our children,” wrote Chamberlain.

“Despite how it sometimes appears, the legislature can indeed walk and chew gum at the same time, and legalizing sports betting is plain common sense.”

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