Minnesota Senate Finance Committee voted 5-4 on Thursday to advance a proposal that would allow tribal casinos and the state’s two horse racing tracks to offer sports betting on mobile devices and in-person, as well as allow people to bet on the Oscars and other arts awards programs. The measure now heads to the Senate full floor for a vote.
However, even if it passes, it is far different from the bill the House approved 70-57 last week, which allows wagering only at tribal casinos. A conference committee would be required to work out differences, but there are only four days left in the session, which ends on Monday.
The Senate bill is authored by Republican Sen. Roger Chamberlain. After the vote Thursday, he told reporters he hopes to get the bill passed and into a House-Senate conference committee but acknowledged the timing will be tight before adjournment on Monday.
Agreement on a final bill may prove difficult as 10 of the state’s 11 Native American tribes represented by the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) oppose the Senate version because of the amendment that includes racetracks, while Chamberlain maintains that leaving the horse racing tracks out of the action is a “non-starter.”
“We’re very happy to help protect the tribes’ business model, I always have been willing to do that, but we cannot allow exclusivity in this case simply because it won’t be a good product,” he said, as reported by the Associated Press.
Governor Tim Walz previously said he would not sign a sports betting bill that did not have the support of Minnesota’s Native American tribes.
A KSTP/SurveyUSA poll taken in April showed 57% of Minnesotans support legalizing sports betting at tribal casinos and horse tracks, and with mobile sports betting.