The Minnesota Senate Finance Committee advanced HF 788 to the Senate floor on Thursday. Last week, the House passed the Minnesota sports betting bill, but the Senate has introduced a new amendment that could be a deal-breaker for legislation. The Senate has included horse racing tracks as potential licensees for sports betting, which the House is in opposition to. The Minnesota legislative session ends on Monday, and legalization now appears unlikely to come until 2023.
New Amendment Added
The bill passed by the House would give 11 tribes exclusive control of sports betting in the state, but the Senate amendment allows for two racetracks to receive mobile and retail licenses. Senator Roger Chamberlain added the amendment to the committee as a means to introduce more competition to the market.
“We can’t have maybe two licenses in the state and hope for others,” Chamberlain expressed during the meeting. “You need to have a healthy market of different odds and different prices.”
Chamberlain said he expected the bill to generate around $10-20 million in annual tax revenue, with one-third of that revenue each going to charitable gaming, promotion of sporting events in Minnesota, and funding of programs for mental health and problem gambling.
Minnesota Tribes Oppose Amendment
On Wednesday, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, which represents ten of the eleven tribes in the state, wrote a letter of opposition to the Senate Finance Committee, saying nine of the ten members of the association support the original version of HF 778 and oppose the new amended version.
“Through the stakeholder process, Rep. Stephenson, Rep. Garofalo, and others crafted a bill that accomplishes the goal of providing a safe and competitive marketplace for Minnesota sports bettors without threatening the viability of tribal gaming in the state,” the letter said. “If amended by the A-22 amendment, which expands commercial gaming, all 10 MIGA tribes would then oppose the legislation.”
Compromise is a Must
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller said all parties must compromise for the bill to be passed, and both chambers must agree. “We need the stakeholders to get together,” he said. “If the tribes and the tracks can come together and sort of work towards an agreement, I’m confident that we can get bipartisan support for the sports betting bill.”
Before Minnesota’s sports betting bill can be sent to Governor Tim Walz for signature, the House and Senate must vote to approve the same legislation. Despite the Senate’s bill remaining largely similar to the House’s version, including the same 10% tax rate, the horse racing amendment is enough for the two chambers to be far from an agreement.
Legalization Unlikely this Year
With the new obstacle created by the amendment from the Senate Finance Committee, it seems highly unlikely that the House and Senate will reach an agreement by Monday when the legislative session ends. Therefore, legislators will turn their sights to 2023 in hopes of coming to terms with a sports betting bill that all interested parties can agree on.
For more information, check out our Minnesota sports betting page.