No floor vote by legislative session end

Minnesota sports betting legalization meets dead end this year amid tribal and racetracks' differences

Minnesota State Capitol.
Reading time 1:33 min

Minnesota sports betting legalization bill failed to pass in the Legislature before the regular session ended late Sunday night, May 22, despite bipartisan support in the Senate and the House of Representatives, which had to bridge differences between their different versions.

Bills in both chambers would have allowed the state’s tribal casinos to run in-person and mobile sports betting for people 21 and older in Minnesota and set priorities for the modest tax revenues the gambling would generate for the state. But a disagreement over whether to allow two Twin Cities area horse racing tracks to also host betting ultimately led to a dead-end, Duluth News Tribune reports.

The Senate version of the legal sports betting bill would have allowed Canterbury Park in Shakopee and Running Aces in Columbus to offer sports betting, something the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association opposes. Gov. Tim Walz said he would not sign into law sports betting legislation not supported by the state’s tribal nations.

U.S. Bank Stadium, home of NFL's Minnesota Vikings.

Last Thursday, Minnesota Senate Finance Committee advanced that bill toward a vote of the full Senate, but House Speaker Melissa Hortman at a news conference the next day said the inclusion of horse tracks threw a “monkey wrench” into the process and that she didn’t think the bill could move forward. The tribal gaming lobby opposed the Senate version of the bill, and while the House was able to pass its version of sports betting on May 12, the Senate version only passed out of committee last week and never got a vote from the full chamber.

The odds of Minnesota legalizing sports betting appeared better than ever this year. Before lawmakers convened in January, Democrats and Republicans in key leadership positions in both the House and Senate expressed interest in getting a bill passed. In March, the tribal gaming association expressed support for the House bill to legalize sports betting.

Reps. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, and Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, led legal sports betting efforts in the House. Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, sponsored a bill in the Senate that had the support of Democratic-Farmer-Labor Sen. Karla Bigham of Cottage Grove.

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.


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