Minnesota joins list of states looking to legalize sports betting

February 21, 2023 Minnesota State Flag - Casino Genie

2022 saw a number of states either vote to legalize sports betting, or implement legislation that had already passed, and in that regard was more or less the busiest year the sports betting industry has had since the 2018 repeal of PASPA. If 2023 continues at the pace it is going, though, it may well outstrip last year, with Minnesota adding its name to the list of states seeking to pass betting legislation this year.

The border state has seen numerous nearby neighbors taking the preliminary and final steps to permitting betting recently, and looking north has also seen extensive liberalization in Canada. Now Minnesotan lawmakers are looking into the possibility of passing new laws to permit sports betting, although there could be some controversy in the pipeline as the recently-introduced Minnesota Sports Betting Act has stripped out the tribal exclusivity clause that was understood to have presented problems with the previous effort to liberalize gambling which failed in congress last year.

The state is home to eleven native tribes who currently have exclusive purview over betting in Minnesota. Any new legislation that results from the proposed bill would see that exclusivity end, and this is unlikely to be a popular move with tribal representatives in the state. Whether this is enough to prevent any bill from passing remains to be seen, but it would certainly present some very awkward questions for the lawmakers trying to implement the bill.

Compromises are being worked on. Some possible moves include offering licences automatically to each of the eleven tribes as well as giving them the opportunity to join with sports betting companies or professional sports teams to offer their own sports betting platforms. Minnesota does not lack teams in the pro leagues in the USA – the NFL’s Vikings, MLB’s Twins, NBA’s Timberwolves, the Wild in hockey’s NHL and Minnesota United in MLS are all active and popular teams.

As it stands, the sports betting bill is understood to have bipartisan support and the full backing of the state’s sports teams. It would be ideal if a compromise could be reached with the state’s tribes to ensure that the lack of exclusivity did not become a sticking point with the legislation. As sports betting advocates found in California, moving forward with legislation before it has the buy-in of tribal leaders has a tendency to stall legislation, and failing to even seek it is bad politics aside from any other consideration.

There are numerous states expected to pass new legislation this year, and a few others that have been flagged as potential sites for further votes. If Minnesota does pass sports betting legislation in 2023, it will be one of at least five earmarked for online sports betting by the time the NFL is approaching its crucial postseason period. That’s among the reasons that new legislation is expected to be strongly backed by the Vikings, who are expected to feature in the 2023 postseason.

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