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Minnesota Still a Long Way From Legalized Sports Betting

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Sports bettors in the state of Minnesota will have to continue making the trip to Iowa to bet on their favorite team. Senator Roger Chamberlain, a Republican from Lino Lakes said that Minnesota should be embarrassed by the fact that Iowa beat them to the punch.


Roger Chamberlain Will Keep Trying

Nobody in the state of Minnesota can accuse Republican Senator Roger Chamberlain of not pushing for legalized sports gambling. He along with Minnesota State Representative Pat Garafolo of Farmington have been the primary voices for legalization in the state. Chamberlain who sponsored the bill said he will try again next year. Farmington for his part said that he plans to meet with fellow legislators and other sports betting supporters next month to discuss strategy for the next session.

That was after a bill that would have legalized sports betting in Minnesota stalled after not receiving a single hearing in the Minnesota House last session. A similar bill in the Minnesota Senate had passed the tax committee before also stalling.


Iowa Are Benefitting from Minnesota's Situation

Iowa sports betting is forecast to bring in between $1.8 and $3.5 million in annual tax revenue. The reason that's relevant to Minnesota is that some of that money will come from their residents. Diamond Jo Casino which has a sportsbook operated by FanDuel is only 10 miles south of the Minnesota border. It's about 115 miles from downtown Minneapolis.

The casino isn't shy about flaunting their proximity to Minnesota and they went as far as having Minnesota Vikings legend John Randle appear at the grand opening of their sportsbook. As if to rub it in Minnesota's face, Randle made the sportsbook's first official bet.


Not Everyone in Minnesota is On Board

While Chamberlain and Garafolo have done their best to get sports betting legalized in Minnesota, they still face firm opposition. Many in Minnesota feel that the potential social costs, like gambling addiction, make it too risky. The executive director of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, Anne Krisnik, believes that an expansion of gaming would increase unemployment and place additional demands on the criminal justice system.

She is not alone as John Helmberger, CEO of the Minnesota Family Council issued a statement opposing the opening of the sportsbook in Northwood. Even though it is in a different state, he realizes the impact it could have on families in his home state. He also recognizes that it could be used as a catalyst to bring legal sports gambling to Minnesota.

Others in Minnesota feel like the subject simply isn't a priority. They believe that the state has much bigger issues that it needs to concern itself with. The state has reported what appears to

be rampant fraud with their childcare assistance program. On top of that, there is turmoil within the Department of Human Services. Many in the state also feel like lowering health care costs needs to be prioritized as well.


Minnesota Indian Gaming Association Opposed

As if there weren't enough hurdles to overcome, one of the biggest for those in favor of sports betting legislation has to be the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA). For the tribes, sports betting is viewed as an economic threat. Considering the tribes control much of the state's gambling industry, their opinion matters a great deal.

The proposed bill that ended up stalling, would have allowed sports betting at tribal casinos and the state's two horse-racing tracks. The inclusion of the tracks did not sit well with the tribes and as a result, they did not give the bill their support.

The MIGA chair, Charles Vig, wrote to Governor Tim Waltz and top legislative leaders back in January. He said the association "continues to oppose the expansion of off-reservation gambling, including the legalization of sports betting."


Don't Expect Sports Betting in Minnesota Any Time Soon

With all of the opposition plus indifference showed by DFL leaders (Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor-Party) who control the House, it could be a long time before Minnesota gamblers are able to bet on sports in their home state. Until then, highway 35W will be busy with residents of Minnesota headed south to Iowa to place bets at casinos like Diamond Jo near Northwood.