The legalization of sports betting in Minnesota will have to wait.
Minnesota's House of Representatives and Senate have now adjourned for this year’s regularly scheduled legislative session without passing a bill that would bring legal wagering to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
The failure followed the two chambers advancing legislation that proposed two different approaches for sports betting. The House version would give the state’s Native American tribes control over retail and online sports betting, but the bill was tweaked by a Senate committee to include race tracks.
That difference of opinion likely scuttled any shot of getting legalization legislation approved this session. House Speaker Melissa Hortman reportedly said on Friday that she didn’t see a way for a sports-betting bill to pass after the Senate “put a monkey wrench in that last night with trying to include the race tracks.”
The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association had likewise warned that the Senate's amendment would earn their opposition. Its executive director wrote in a letter to the Senate finance committee that the group "has consistently opposed the expansion of non-tribal commercial gaming and will continue to do so."
No special occasion
While a special session may be in the offing, it may focus on funding bills and not legislation that has to do with taking bets on the Super Bowl and other events. And, with an election approaching in November, legal sports betting in Minnesota may not happen for months, if ever.
“This will not become law through this avenue this year and it appears to be a waste of time,” warned Rep. Kurt Daudt, a Republican and the minority leader in the House, earlier this month.
There is still hope for sports bettors in the state. As one legislator recently called it, Minnesota is an “island,” as it is surrounded by legal betting states and wager-friendly Canada. The pressure to legalize is not going away.
What’s more, there does seem to be bipartisan interest in finding a solution. However, whether or not lawmakers can agree on the issues facing that solution remains to be seen.
“Hopefully, even though this bill is going to be a dead-end because it's not going to go into conference committee, this is an issue that we do need to keep talking about and keep working on,” Daudt told his fellow lawmakers in the House.