The Potluck

Renewed push to legalize sports betting would allow mobile wagering

By: - February 16, 2022 5:13 pm

Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lake, on the Senate floor on March 22, 2021. Photo by A.J. Olmscheid/Senate Media Services

A bipartisan group of state senators outlined a proposal Wednesday to make sports betting — including online wagering — legal in Minnesota, saying their plan would help protect the interests of tribes in Minnesota who currently control gambling. 

“We are closer than we’ve ever been,” said state Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, during a morning appearance on KFAN sports radio. “It will be good for the tribes, it will protect tribal interests and also be positive for people who like to go to the track and place a wager.”

Chamberlain’s proposal would allow for so-called brick-and-mortar sports betting on Native reservations and at the state’s two horse racing tracks. Additionally, it would allow for online sports wagering that would be controlled by the tribes, which could then license online gambling to other operators in the state. Those licenses would be regulated by the state. 

The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association declined to comment on Chamberlain’s proposal, but said in a statement: “The tribal governments making up MIGA have been examining the various ways sports betting has been implemented across the country and its impacts on tribal communities,” executive director Andy Platto said. “As gaming experts, tribes stand ready to share this expertise with lawmakers considering the future of sports betting in Minnesota.”

DFL Gov. Tim Walz has indicated that any legislation legalizing sports betting would require approval from tribal governments before it would receive his signature. 

Legal sports betting has exploded in states across the country — including Iowa and the Dakotas — following a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a federal law banning most states from allowing sports betting. 

Chamberlain said during a news conference that while they are seeking input from tribes, their cooperation is not necessary to pass legislation. He said that if his legislation is approved this year, sports betting would start in fall 2023.

In the House, DFL Rep. Zack Stephenson of Coon Rapids has taken the lead on the issue. Stephenson is expected to introduce his own legislation later this session.

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