Minnesota Legislators to Tackle Amended Sports Betting Bill in House

Minneapolis, MN – Local lawmakers are preparing for the possibility of having the sports betting bill be passed before the end of the legislative session on May 20, 2024.

The House Ways and Means Committee has adjusted the legislation for passage by adding sports betting language to HF5274, the historic horse racing (HHR) prohibition bill. Changing the vehicles from HF2000 to HF5274 can potentially help the bill avoid being blocked by the Senate after it has passed. 

Originally part of Senator Matt Klein’s SF1949, HF2000 was halted in the Senate Finance Committee. Chair John Marty, who is notably against sports betting and has made some big demands that included prohibiting in-game wagering.

But HF5274 can avoid the Senate Finance Committee. Klein took over as chief author Monday of SF5354, the HHR prohibition companion bill. The House bill was amended to no longer include a prohibition of electronic table games currently being offered at Minnesota racetracks.

What Factors are Pressuring the Legalization of Sports Betting in Minnesota?

Legalizing sports betting in Minnesota has been a long-standing issue. Back in 2022, tribal leaders blocked any developments of sports betting becoming legal in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes.

However, part of the development of the sports betting bill from Rep. Zack Stephenson and Sen. Klein included the agreement to bring the horse racing industry on board while maintaining tribal support. The House bill offers the tracks $625,000 annually and requires the money go to horse racing purses.

Minnesota sports betting legislation comes down to whether the 11 tribes and two racetracks can reach a deal. Specifically, revenue share for tracks not to contest tribes getting exclusivity over online sports betting would be the main talking point.

Local tribes have been hard to persuade in negotiations with tracks for the longest time. But pressure from legislators looking to pass the charitable gaming tax and the prospect of legal challenges are the channels that could facilitate a compromise.

Last month, the Minnesota Racing Commission approved HHR at Minnesota racetracks. The commission set HHR to begin May 21, but the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community filed a lawsuit challenging the commission’s decision.

These moves are the bill’s sponsors’ attempt to sway the House of Representatives to green light the bill and send it on its way to the Senate.

Meanwhile, Minnesota House Democrats are pushing hard to get the sports betting legislation to the finish line by the end of the session due to the tax cuts for charities in the legislation.

Rep. Stephenson was one of the legislators who pushed the hardest for the charitable gaming changes. He struck a deal this session to make it up to charities with significant tax cuts. However, those tax cuts depend on the revenue online sports betting generates.

Moreover, 2024 is an election year for the Minnesota House. The Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL) currently has control of the House, having 70 seats in the chamber to 64 for Republicans. 

The e-pull tab changes go into effect on the first of January, and if the tax cuts aren’t in place at the same time, charitable representatives and their benefactors figure to remember in November. That could put DFL control of the House at risk.

What Does This Mean for Online Casinos In Minnesota?

While the developments of sports betting being legalized in Minnesota are getting closer and closer to fruition, the same can’t be said for online casinos.

Online casinos in Minnesota are still illegal compared to some states in the US. This is due in large part to the political atmosphere, both in the legislative and tribal community. 

But in the event that sports betting would be approved by the House and the Senate, the discussion for online casinos and betting cannot be far from the table.

Last Updated on by jonathan r

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