Unlikely Alliance Could Doom Minnesota Sports Betting Act 2.0

Written By Adam Hensley on March 29, 2024
A picture of a sportsbooks with the

A surprise alliance between two senators could spell the demise of Minnesota Sports Betting Act 2.0.

Earlier this month, Senators Matt Klein and Jeremy Miller agreed to work together to get Klein’s sports betting measure passed. Klein is a Democrat, while Miller is a Republican.

At the start of the legislative session, Miller filed Senate File 3803, known as the Minnesota Sports Betting Act 2.0. It represented the state’s best chance to legalize sports betting in 2024. However, Miller now supports Klein’s Senate File 1949, which was filed last year.

Klein told KARE 11 that their partnership behind his bill is now the best way to move forward.

“I’ve got a good feeling about this. There are people on both sides of the aisle that want to get it done this year, and we’re moving forward.”

Racetracks couldn’t operate a sportsbook under Klein’s bill

If a Minnesota sports betting bill can pass through both chambers of the legislature, Gov. Tim Walz said he would sign it into law. Minnesota remains just a handful of US states that haven’t legalized sports betting.

Klein has advocated for tribal exclusivity, and that’s exactly what his legislation seeks to do. Minnesota’s 11 Native American tribes would have control over the market, which is a bit different than what Miller proposed in his bill.

In SB 3803, pari-mutuel facilities would be able to have some control of the market. They could operate brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. That’s not the case with Klein’s bill.

While Minnesota’s horse racetracks won’t be able to operate a sportsbook under Klein’s bill, they aren’t totally cut out of the picture. Under SF 1949, 5% of sports betting revenue tax would go to the Minnesota Racing Commission for grants to licensed racetracks.

Originally, the bill called for the racing commission to receive 30% of the sports betting revenue taxes. Once the commission received $20 million, the government would dedicate just $3 million annually.

Under the latest version of the bill, the commission’s tax cut would not be capped after $20 million. Miller told KARE 11 that the window to get sports betting passed this session is closing.

“I think it’s important that we get this done. I also think it’s important that we pass a bill that not only benefits the tribes but also benefits the horse racing tracks, benefits charities across the state of Minnesota, youth sports and then, something that’s very important to me, that we have a permanent stream of funding to attract major sporting events to Minnesota.”

It’s also worth noting that SF 1949 originally called for a 10% tax on sports betting revenue. That number now stands at 20%.

Klein’s bill could face full Senate vote soon

Essentially, Miller’s move to support a competing bill is a compromise to get legal sports betting up and running as soon as possible. Right now, Miller’s SF 3803 awaits a hearing in the Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Committee.

Anything can happen, but Miller’s support of the competing SF 1949 appears to signal the end of the Minnesota Sports Betting Act 2.0. It looks as though both parties want sports betting to happen, and this compromise may be the quickest route to making that a reality.

Klein’s bill is also farther along in the legislative process than SF 3803. It needs the approval of one more committee before the entire Senate can vote on it.

Photo by PlayMinnesota
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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