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Carlos Correa of the Minnesota Twins as we look at the details behind the lifeline legal sports betting was recently thrown before the end of the legislative session
Carlos Correa of the Minnesota Twins rounds third base before scoring on May 12, 2024. Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images via AFP.

Time is ticking on the possibility of legal sports betting for Minnesota in 2024. Despite some serious pessimism the last week or so, Minnesota lawmakers on Friday gave the chances of legalization a lifeline with 10 days to go in the current legislative session. Residents of the North Star State currently are unable to access our best sports betting sites.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman is now putting the odds of a legal sports betting bill at 60-40, despite that late last month, the chances of legal Minnesota sports betting seemed to be all but dead after the House of Representatives voiced doubt about anything getting done before the current session which ends May 20.

“It may pass the House, but it will not pass the Senate,” Rep. Greg Davids said at a recent meeting on the topic.

The race is definitely on for Minnesota to become the first and possibly the only state in America to legalize sports betting in 2024.

What changed?

The Minnesota legislature's House Ways & Means Committee moved sports betting language from House File 2000 (HF 2000) into House File 5274 at Friday's sitting. The procedural move actually prohibits one form of gambling, historical horse racing (HHR), in the state. 

Stripping HHR language more or less assures that any bill wouldn't infringe on gambling exclusivity that the state's tribes currently have, thus avoiding any unnecessary controversy. That means even if they pass, residents won't be able to access our best horse racing betting sites.

Following that move, the legislation was moved to the House Floor where it will be debated, and likely passed as it has in the recent past.

It would then be in the hands of the Senate, which seemed to be the major obstacle just a week ago. It is unclear whether or not the senior body in the state legislature will continue to function as a roadblock or will seriously consider a legal sports betting bill, minus a traditional horse racing market. If things should pass the process for some of our best sports betting apps to launch in the state would get underway.

Either way, the Bill will need bipartisan support in order to pass.

As mentioned, pessimism around legal sports betting has turned into some form of optimism. At one point, Rep. Zack Stephenson pegged the chances of passage at 50% while Senate sponsor Sen. Matt Klein had it at 20%. As of Friday, the Speaker of the House is now giving the Bill a 60-40 chance to succeed.

What HF 2000 says

If HF 2000 can pass the Senate, Minnesota sports betting apps will be available. Rep. Stephenson’s plan would give 11 state tribes exclusive control over retail and mobile sports betting.

Tribes currently own exclusive rights to casino gaming in the state.

To bolster needy state and local tax coffers, a 20% tax would be levied on any sports betting bill in the state.

Minnesota's professional sports teams have already supported a sports betting platform for the state.

So, what seemed like a lost cause for proponents of legal sports betting to get something across the finish line in 2024 has some life. We will know in the next two weeks whether or not lawmakers can get their act together and pass a meaningful sports wagering platform for their citizens. The current legislative session runs out on May 20.