Minnesota’s sports betting bill, which would legalize online and retail sports betting at tribal casinos, took another small step forward today as the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee approved the legislation.

The committee approved the bill by a vote of 9-6, moving the document next to the Minnesota Tax Committee.

Sports betting bill continues to move forward

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 in the committee hearing, Stephenson noted that Minnesota’s sports betting black market is a robust one, taking in nearly $2 million in bets. Bill HF 778 will bring consumer protections to the state and help address problem gaming, with 40% of sports betting tax revenues earmarked for such programs.

The bill sets the minimum age of participation at 21.

Chief opponents of the bill did not dispute the legalization of sports betting this morning, but namely that Minnesota charitable organizations and state race tracks will be excluded from offering sports betting in any of its forms, ceding control entirely to state tribes.

Sam Krueger, executive director of Electronic Gaming Group, said giving Minnesota state tribes 100% of sports betting control will severely hamper Minnesota’s charitable gaming organizations.

“We deserve a seat at the table,” Krueger said.

Rep. Peggy Scott (R-35B) also expressed concerns that the bill did not specifically list the extent of criminal and civil penalties for tribes or individuals who run afoul of sports betting laws in the state.

Despite the concerns over the bill, the committee did advance HF 778 to the Minnesota Tax Committee. It’s a small step for the bill, but a necessary one, as it slowly makes it way to a Minnesota House of Representatives hearing.

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.