Minn. Senate Sports Betting Bill Heads To Final Hurdle Before Floor Vote

Written By Steve Schult on March 8, 2024
A picture of a series of hurdles for a story about how a MN Senate sports betting bill is heading to what is likely its last committee.

A Minnesota Senate committee will discuss one of the state’s sports betting bills next week. This is the bill’s fifth committee hearing. If it passes, it will probably head to a floor vote.

The Senate Taxes Committee will hear SF 1949 on Thursday, March 14. The bill is one of three in the legislature that would legalize Minnesota sports betting.

SF 1949 heads to its second hearing just a few days after the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection amended and passed it in a separate hearing.

Despite passing, the amendment is the bigger deal. After the committee finished it, the bill would prohibit sportsbooks from offering in-game wagering. Also known as live betting, the wagers have become very popular in recent years as the industry grew.

Sports betting appears to be on MN’s fast track

There is legal sports betting in 38 states and Washington, DC. In other words, most of the US has already passed legislation allowing the activity.

However, Minnesota is one of three states yet to act with a realistic chance at passing something in 2024. Missouri and Georgia are the other two.

But the difference between them and the North Star State is that the legislature appears eager to move on the bills.

Minnesota operates its legislature in two-year cycles. There was already a sports betting bill in each chamber from 2023, which are still going through the legal process.

Additionally, Sen. Jeremy Miller introduced SF 3803 at the start of the 2024 session, giving the state three bills to consider.

The House bill has passed one committee so far this year. Miller’s bill was referred to the State and Local Government and Veterans Committee but still awaiting its first hearing.

On the other hand, Missouri lawmakers can’t agree on whether video lottery terminals should be legalized with sports betting. And although the Georgia Senate passed sports betting legislation, a House committee has sat on it for weeks without scheduling a hearing.

SF 1949 is the only bill without explicit tribal support

The Minnesota gaming industry has tribal and commercial interests. The tribes have exclusivity over casino gaming, but legislators permitted racetracks to have cardrooms, too.

The two bills from last year give tribes exclusivity over sports betting as well. Miller’s bill acts as a compromise, allowing racetracks to run brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and giving tribes exclusivity over the online market.

When Miller’s bill was introduced, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association tacitly supported it. When local media asked the group’s executive director about the bill, he said the tribes support the state’s efforts to legalize sports betting.

Then, the group wrote a letter of support to the House Human Service Finance Committee for the House’s sports betting bill.

SF 1949 is the only bill that hasn’t been directly tied to the tribes. But with an amendment prohibiting a popular type of wager, tribal support seems unlikely.

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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