It’s been quite the journey so far for a Minnesota sports betting bill.

The Minnesota Tax Committee approved HF 778, a bill to legalize retail and online sports betting for the state’s 11 Native American Tribes, by a vote of 13-5 with one abstention. It’s the fourth committee approval for the sports betting bill, which now moves to the Minnesota House Ways and Means Committee. If approved in the Ways and Means Committee, the bill could finally be sent to the House Floor.

Sports betting bill slowly making its way

The bill is slowly making its way to the Minnesota House of Representatives. Last week it was approved by the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee.

Today’s committee meeting was the tamest meeting so far. Most of the discussion actually centered around the state tax rate for charitable gaming rather than the sports betting bill.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids), will legalize in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and create up to two master online sports betting licenses for state tribes. The 11 Minnesota tribes will have control over the state’s online sports betting. It will not allow the state’s race tracks to offer sports betting in any capacity.

Speaking at the committee meeting, Stephenson urged his fellow representatives to contact him with ideas to improve the bill.

“We’ve incorporated many of the ideas from the majority and minority parties in this bill,” Stephenson said after its committee approval.

The bill will bring consumer protections to the state and help address problem gaming, with 40% of sports betting tax revenues earmarked for such programs. It’s one of the highest percentages of tax revenues dedicated to problem gaming in the entire country, Stephenson noted.

The bill sets the minimum age of participation at 21.

Master online sports betting licenses

In addition to legalizing retail sports betting for tribal casinos, the bill will allow up to two “master mobile sports betting licenses,” valid for 20 years, to organizations comprised of two or more Minnesota Indian Tribes. One license will be granted to an organization with Indian Tribes located in the north of the state while the second license will go to tribes in the south.

Each tribe in a licensed organization will be able to partner with an online sportsbook company to operate their sportsbook app.

There are 11 federally recognized tribes in Minnesota. Four Dakota Tribes have reservations south and west of Minneapolis and St. Paul, while seven Ojibwe/Chippewa reservations are located north of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The tribes own and operate 19 casinos in the state.

The following tribes will be eligible to offer retail and/or online sports betting if the bill is approved:

  • Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
  • Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Grand Portage Band of Chippewa
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Lower Sioux Indian Community
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Prairie Island Indian Community
  • Red Lake Nation
  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
  • Upper Sioux Community
  • White Earth Nation

Competing Senate sports betting bill

Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-38) introduced a bill last month that is very similar to Stephenson’s bill. However, Chamberlain’s bill will allow state race tracks to also offer retail and online sports betting in addition to Minnesota Tries.

Bill SF 547 does not yet have a scheduled hearing.