Minnesota House Committee Moves Sports Betting Bill Forward

Written By Steve Schult on February 22, 2024 - Last Updated on February 23, 2024
A picture of an approved stamp for a story about how the Minnesota house amended and approved a sports betting bill.

The lower chamber of the Minnesota legislature made progress on sports betting legalization.

The House Human Services Finance Committee amended and approved HF 2000 Thursday afternoon. The bill would legalize Minnesota sports betting and give online sportsbook exclusivity to the tribes.

After approving the amendment and passing the bill, the committee re-referred it to the State Local Government Finance and Policy Committee. Since the bill’s introduction last year, legislators sent the bill to six different committees.

Legislation was amended to alter tax revenue distribution

The committee discussion centered on the A-18 amendment, which would change how the new tax revenue is used.

The bill taxes sports betting revenue at 10%. Under the previous version, half of that revenue would be used to tackle problem gambling and the other half to fund youth sports, an issue also addressed in this year’s Senate sports betting bill, filed by longtime advocate Sen. Jeremy Miller.

But the A-18 amendment would split that money into thirds.

One-third would be used to fund the state chapter of the National Alliance on Problem Gambling. Another would be used for problem gambling treatment and prevention. Lastly, a third would be used for an emergency services grant.

In this bill, the problem gambling resources would be available to family members of the problem gambler. Not just the bettor.

Two outside parties express support for the bill

Earlier that morning, the committee received two letters of support for the amended structure of the bill.

The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless submitted a letter that morning. They cited the amendment’s addition to fund the Emergency Services Grant Program as one of the main reasons.

Additionally, they added that gambling addiction can contribute to homelessness.

“MCH has been advocating for increased investments in the Emergency Services Grant Program (ESP) for years,” they wrote.

The other letter of support came from Susan Tucker, the executive director of the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling. Tucker also testified in support of the bill at the hearing.

Slight pushback from a few lawmakers

During the member discussion, a couple of Republican representatives pushed back slightly against the bill. One asked why online sports betting needed to be legalized. He appeared to, instead, support the legalization of retail betting.

Rep. Zack Stephenson, the bill’s sponsor, said it was because it’s already happening through offshore books.

“It’s already on the phone,” said Stephenson. “We are not capable of making the decision about whether or not you’re going to wager on your phone. People wager on their phone all the time. It’s very easy to do. I don’t believe this bill makes it any easier to do.”

There were a couple “nays” in the voice vote, but lawmakers voted nearly unanimously to pass the amendment and bill. The State Local Government Finance and Policy Committee has not announced when they will discuss the legislation yet.

Photo by PlayMinnesota
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Steve Schult

The managing editor for PlayMinnesota and several other Catena Media sites, Steve stays on top of all things related to the national gaming industry. He is also a veteran of the gambling world. The native New Yorker started covering high-stakes tournaments in 2009 for some of poker’s most prominent media outlets before adding the broader U.S. gaming market to his beat in 2018.

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