Despite Missed Deadlines, Sports Betting Bills Still Have Glimmer Of Hope

Written By Mike Breen on April 27, 2024 - Last Updated on April 28, 2024
A picture of a heart monitor for a story about how the MN sports betting bills are still alive despite missed deadline.

It remains unclear if they’ll have the votes to pass. But the two Minnesota sports betting bills are still working through the legislature.

The April 19 deadline for legislators to “act favorably” on bills with a fiscal component through the committee process and onto the floor for a full chamber vote has passed.

But, per Rule 2.03, that deadline does not apply to bills in the House Taxes Committee nor the Senate Finance Committee. It’s those committees where companion sports betting bills, House File 2000, and Senate File 1949, currently sit in their respective chambers.

Companion bills would need further committee approval if passed

Legal Minnesota sports betting is probably as close as it’s ever been. Unfortunately, several obstacles remain. Lawmakers supporting the legislation must find a way to placate several parties, including the state’s Native American tribes and horse racetracks.

There are less than four weeks to go in the session. It ends on May 20.

HF 2000 and SF 1949 were submitted as companion bills, allowing the House and Senate to simultaneously work on the same legislation to speed up passage. However, if one committee adds any amendments, a conference committee is formed with three to five members from each chamber. That committee is tasked with reconciling the differences in the bills before they can advance.

Rule 2.03 also states that fiscal bills not passed by the April 19 deadline “must be referred in the Senate to the Committee on Rules and Administration and in the House of Representatives to the Committee on Rules and Legislative Administration for disposition.” That means the sports betting bills must also pass through those rules committees before advancing to a final vote.

House bill has next committee hearing April 30

Introduced by Rep. Zack Stephenson, HF 2000 has passed through several committees since being introduced in February. The bill would legalize sports betting and daily fantasy sports. It sets a 20% tax rate on operators and gives tax relief for charitable gaming organizations.

HF 2000 will have a hearing in the House Taxes Committee on April 30. If passed, it would be referred to the House Rules Committee.

Senate bill may face stronger resistance

Sen. Matt Klein introduced the Senate’s companion bill on the same day as the House bill in February.

SF 1949 has similarly passed through several committees since its introduction. The Senate bill is similar to the House bill, giving the state’s tribes exclusivity over sports betting licensing and levying a 20% tax rate on operators.

But the bill also includes a controversial ban on in-game betting. However, most stakeholders in a potential sports betting industry opposed the measure because of its negative impact on revenue.  SF 1949 has also faced pushback from the state’s horse racetracks and their supporters in the Senate over limited concessions to the tracks in the bill and an explicit ban on historical horse racing machines at the facilities.

SF 1949 has been in the Senate Finance Committee since being passed by the Taxes Committee in mid-March. The Finance Committee is chaired by Sen. John Marty, who has expressed opposition to sports betting over problem gambling concerns.

Marty, reportedly the catalyst for the in-game betting ban, introduced his own sports betting bill earlier this month. Senate File 5330 includes a higher tax rate (at least 40%), betting limits and more funding for problem gambling. Lawmakers referred SF 5330 to the Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Committee after introduction. But the committee never heard the bill.

There is currently no hearing scheduled in the Senate Finance Committee on SF 1949. The Senate Rules Committee’s approval is still needed to move forward.

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Mike Breen

As a contributor to PlayMinnesota, Mike Breen covers most angles of the state's gambling industry. Currently, he is focusing on the state's legislative progress surrounding sports betting bills. However, he can be found writing about many aspects of Minnesota gaming.

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