— Sen. Karla Bigham (@karlabigham) January 14, 2021
On Thursday, Minnesota Senator Karla Bigham tweeted that she will be “introducing legislation to legalize sports wagering here in Minnesota!” Bigham is still working on drafting the bill, and there is currently no timetable on when it will be submitted.
A few Minnesota lawmakers have reached out to Bigham about support and even draft a sports betting bill for the state. The details are still unclear on what sports betting would look like in Minnesota.
The North Star State has attempted to pass a sports betting bill in the past but did not gain traction after tribal casinos were in opposition to the bill. Now, Minnesota is taking another stab at legalizing sports wagering, and Bigham will be at the forefront of it.
Past Sports Betting Bill
In March 2019, Sen. Roger Chamberlain submitted a sports betting bill into the legislature. It passed through the first committee before taking a year to get to the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee.
However, the issue was that tribal groups felt it could negatively impact the state’s gaming industry, so the bill received pushback. Chamberlin moved forward with an amendment to the bill, which would make Minnesotans register in-person for a mobile sports betting account.
Melanie Benjamin, chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians, commented on the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas in October 2019. She stated that Minnesota would only see a 4.5% increase from sports betting, which is not enough to continue legalization. Billions are already being wagered in the state from lottery scratch-offs, casino gaming, bingo, and more.
Last March, tribal groups in Minnesota were against sports betting, but after what 2020 brought to the world, the groups might have a different thought with sports betting helping out the state.
What Could Sports Betting Look Like?
Minnesota’s population is right behind Colorado, which legalized sports betting last May. The North Star State could look to how Colorado has successfully launched sports betting at the beginning of the pandemic. In November, Colorado reported a betting handle over $230 million, and Minnesota could see something similar if the state follows suit.
Sen. Bigham received support from the Colorado House of Representatives Speaker, Alec Garnett.
— Speaker Alec Garnett (@AlecGarnett) January 15, 2021
Garnett could show Bigham the ropes on creating a successful sports betting industry in the state that tribal groups cannot refuse. If Minnesota were to adopt Colorado’s sports betting regulations, the state could see over a quarter-billion dollars wagered once it hits maturity.
Colorado has seen a lot of success thanks to the friendly regulations it churned out for sportsbooks. The tax rate on sports betting revenue is 10%, which is friendly compared to Nevada, which is 6.75%. Pennsylvania sits on the high end at 36%.
Minnesota could charge the 10% tax rate and charge betting operators $135,000 for an application fee and an additional annual renewal fee that could be upwards of $50,000 to $100,000 for all skins. Having a lower tax rate makes it more enticing for sports betting operators to enter the state.
This also makes their fees low to its customers, making bettors more willing to get in on the action. If Minnesota can follow Colorado’s path and make it friendly for sportsbooks to enter the state, then commercial casinos and tribal groups in the North Star State will want to move forward with sports betting.