Tribal leaders and state lawmakers are at odds over sports betting.

  • Bill MN SF 1894 is on the table for the second year in a row to legalize sports betting in Minnesota.
  • The Tribes in the state are opposed to any type of gaming expansion which includes gambling on sporting events.
  • Unless lawmakers and the Tribes can come to a resolution on legal sports betting by May, it will have to wait until next year to be discussed again.

MINNEAPOLIS – Legal Minnesota sports betting is being proposed with bill MN SF 1894 but the Tribes of the state are against legalization. The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) has issued a statement as to why they are opposed to the sports betting market entering the North Star State.

A hearing on Tuesday with the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee did not appear to show any progress for MN SF 1894 to move forward.

The Bill

The Bill MN SF 1894 was first introduced in 2019. The Minnesota State Legislature has a policy that any bills that come out in odd-numbered years will carry over into the even-numbered year sessions as well.

The sponsor of MN SF 1894, Senator Roger Chamberlain has since made adjustments to his bill over the last year. It didn’t budge in 2019 in terms of progress.

Both retail and internet sports betting applications would be available under MN SF 1894. Professional and collegiate sporting events would be open for wagers by sports bettors. In his original draft, Chamberlain allowed mobile sportsbooks to have signup done completely through mobile devices.

However, he’s changed that to make in-person registration a requirement for all residents that wish to have a mobile/internet sportsbook account.

Each retail operator is allowed to have two different sportsbook operating brands for which a mobile platform can go along with both. That is also a new amendment from that of 2019. The last change from his original bill comes by allowing for emergency action once the bill becomes law to get sportsbooks up and running as quickly as possible.

Tribal Opposition

MIGA responded to the bill with a written statement released to the public on Sunday. The 11 Tribes that MIGA represents currently run 19 casinos in Minnesota.

They are concerned about the unknown market that sports betting represents. The testimony of the Tribes came down to an already thriving gaming business in the state and their wish to leave that market as is.

“Minnesota’s current gaming landscape is well balanced with a rightful place for the charitable gaming, horse racing, lottery, and tribal operations. For over 25 years, MIGA has opposed the expansion of state gambling to ensure the continued success of Indian gaming that remains critical to sovereign tribal governments ability to serve their communities. Our position is unchanged; The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association continues to oppose the expansion of off-reservation gambling, including the legalization of sports betting and, therefore, must respectfully oppose SF1894,” an excerpt from MIGA’s statement read.

What It Comes Down To

Residents would like to see legalized Minnesota sports betting come to their state. But the Tribal opposition is a big issue. The Tribes would rather not rock the boat of the gaming industry that they’ve come to know and profit from by expanding into sports betting.

They would be open to the idea if more research was done on the issue regarding states that have made gambling on sporting events legal with a focus on those with large Tribal communities.

However, a study takes time; therefore, MN SF 1894 would not be a possibility to become law in the 2020 legislative session. The session ends in May and there is still very much to discuss for legalized sports betting to be a possibility in the North Star State for 2020.

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