Minnesota has yet to enter the sports betting market, but State Senator Jeremy Miller, who represents Winona, aims to change that with the introduction of the Minnesota Sports Betting Act 2.0. This updated bill builds on previous legislative efforts to legalize sports betting in the state.
Minnesota is the only state in the Upper Midwest that does not currently support sports betting. Senator Miller highlighted the missed opportunity, stating that the state continues to miss out on a $100 billion industry. With 38 states, including Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., already legalizing sports betting, it's clear that Minnesota needs to keep up.
The proposed bill recognizes the importance of collaboration with Minnesota's 11 tribal nations. It offers licensing opportunities for these tribes to offer both retail and mobile sports betting. Additionally, licensees will have the option to place retail bets at horse racing tracks or professional sports stadiums in the state. This inclusive approach aims to create a fair and competitive market while respecting the sovereignty of tribal nations.
To ensure sustainable growth of the sports betting industry, the bill proposes a 15% tax rate on sports betting revenue. This rate is in line with the national average and allows for a balance between generating revenue for the state and supporting the development of the sector. Tax revenues will fund a variety of initiatives, including charitable gambling tax relief for local charities, attracting major sporting events to the state, supporting horse racing, providing problem gambling resources, supporting youth sports and facilitating athlete training programs.
The bill also addresses concerns voiced by charities across the state regarding changes to electronic pull tabs in the 2023 tax bill. It aims to bring back some functions that have been eliminated, such as free games and bonus games. By doing this, the bill aims to alleviate concerns and ensure that charitable gaming options are protected and enhanced.
The Minnesota Sports Betting Act 2.0 has garnered significant support among lawmakers in the state. Rep. Pat Garofalo and Rep. Zack Stephenson, along with Sen. Miller, have been vocal advocates of legalizing sports betting in Minnesota. However, the departure of Rep. Garofalo, who announced that he will not run for re-election, could affect the progress of the bill. Still, the bipartisan coalition formed by Garofalo and Stephenson laid a strong foundation for future legislative efforts.
In 2023, Minnesota lawmakers considered a proposal that would allow sports betting at tribal casinos and through mobile apps. The bill, sponsored by the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association and Rep. Garofalo, aimed to address the estimated $2 billion leaving the state through black market betting. However, the bill was not accepted at the end of the session. The passage of the Minnesota Sports Betting Act 2.0 is a renewed effort to address previous shortcomings and find a workable path to legalization.
In addition to entertainment value and increased revenue for the state, legalizing sports betting in Minnesota would have significant economic benefits. The sector has the potential to create jobs, attract tourism and boost local businesses. Minnesotans will be allowed to participate in legal sports betting within the state, eliminating the need to travel across borders or engage with illegal online merchants.
Senator Miller plans to introduce the Minnesota Sports Betting Act 2.0 on February 12, 2024, the first day of the legislative session. The introduction of the bill paves the way for discussions, negotiations and possible changes. As the legislative process progresses, stakeholders and the public will closely monitor the progress of this important legislation.