Minnesota Sports Betting A Hot Topic As 2024 Legislative Session Begins

Written By Hill Kerby on February 12, 2024
A picture of the Minnesota Capitol

The 2024 Minnesota legislative session began Monday. That means state legislators will bring forth a new slate of bills to address important issues in the state.

Of all these, perhaps no topic will be hotter than sports betting. The North Star State is one of just 12 states where sports betting remains illegal after state lawmakers failed to get on the same page and pass legislation in 2023.

That could all change in the coming months, though, as state Sen. Jeremy Miller’s new bill, the Minnesota Sports Betting Act 2.0, will make its way through the statehouse. Although the bill wasn’t formally filed on Monday, Miller’s office informed PlayMinnesota that it will be filed late this week or early next week.

What needs to happen to legalize Minnesota sports betting?

What’s different this time?

Last year’s efforts to legalize Minnesota sports betting fell short due to a lack of bipartisan support for gaming expansion. The new bill focuses on appeasing not only the state’s elected leaders but also its tribes, horse racetracks and professional sports teams.

Minnesota’s 11 tribal nations would have exclusive access to sports betting licenses, just like casino gaming. They would also be able to partner with sports teams or racetracks and operate retail sportsbooks at their approved facilities.

However, in-state horse racetracks believe the bill does not afford them the same opportunities. They want their own mobile licenses, just like the tribes.

Furthermore, Miller’s updated proposal includes a 15% revenue tax, up from last year’s 10%. Tax proceeds would go toward:

  • Local charities receiving tax relief for charitable gaming
  • Boosting Minnesota horse racing
  • Attracting major sporting events to the state
  • Growing and promoting youth sports and athlete education programs
  • Increasing problem gambling resources

The path to legal Minnesota sports betting

With the 2024 Minnesota legislative session underway, sports betting and the millions of dollars it can bring the state will return to focus. For those discussions to make headway, all parties must realize that enough pieces of the pie exist for everyone to get a slice.

Within the Legislature, Miller’s bill must pass through both the state House and Senate before Gov. Tim Walz can sign it into law. Last year’s bill failed to do either, making it through three House committees before running into a group of legislators, all on different pages, according to Miller.

“This updated proposal combines ideas from my original Minnesota Sports Betting Act along with provisions from other sports betting bills that were introduced last session. The goal of this proposal is to bring folks together to work toward a bipartisan solution to legalize sports betting in Minnesota. I strongly believe we can get it done this year.”

Progress was made in 2023 session, but will it continue in 2024?

Entering the 2024 session, Minnesota Democrats control the House and Senate. Walz is also a Democrat, a political trifecta for the party.

As the party in power, the Democrats have used their influence to pass a long list of bills and legalize the following:

  • Recreational cannabis
  • Abortion access
  • Paid family leave
  • Free meals for all K-12 students
  • Expanded gun control measures, including a red flag law and increased background checks
  • Undocumented immigrants’ abilities to obtain driver’s licenses.

In addition to sports betting, legislators will look to pass laws in areas like housing, public infrastructure and a continued focus on making Minnesota more inclusive with sustained investments into communities with prominent minority populations.

Although 2024 is an election year, the best-case scenario for Republicans is to win the House. The Minnesota Senate remains blue until 2026, meaning the Democrats will continue influencing political matters for at least three more sessions.

Photo by AP Photo / Steve Karnowski
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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby is a proponent of safe, legal betting, and is grateful to be able to contribute to growing the industry. He has a background in poker, sports, and psychology, all of which he incorporates into his writing.

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