How Lawmaker’s Arrest Further Derails Minnesota Sports Betting

Written By Adam Hensley on May 8, 2024
A picture of a person handcuffed for a story about a Minnesota lawmaker getting arrested and its affect on sports betting legalization

Minnesota sports betting appears to be dead this year. And the final nail in the coffin may have come with the arrest of a state lawmaker.

Sen. Nicole Mitchell (DFL-Woodbury) was charged in late April with first-degree burglary.

The prospects of Minnesota sports betting being legalized this year weren’t great before Mitchell’s arrest. Now, with less than two weeks remaining in the legislative session, it looks like Minnesotans will have to leave the state for another year to wager on sports.

Mitchell Allegedly Broke into Stepmother’s House

On April 22, authorities arrested Mitchell at the home of her stepmother in Detroit Lakes.

At the time, Mitchell claimed she was checking in on a loved one with Alzheimer’s. According to the Associated Press, however, the homeowner called 911 at 4:45 a.m., saying “an active burglary in process at her residence.” Mitchell supposedly ran into the basement when authorities arrived on the scene.

According to the criminal complaint, police found Mitchell wearing a black hat and clothing. There was a black backpack near her and a flashlight with a sock on it. Inside the backpack, police found a pair of laptops, one cellphone, Tupperware, and identifying documents.

Authorities said Mitchell claimed that once her father died, her stepmother would not speak with her or her family members. Mitchell allegedly wanted photographs, a shirt, ashes, and other “sentimental” items.

According to the complaint, Mitchell told her stepmother:

“I was just trying to get a couple of my dad’s things because you wouldn’t talk to me anymore.”

Mitchell allegedly told authorities that she knew it was wrong to enter the home.

How Mitchell’s Arrest Throws a Wrinkle into Sports Betting Talks

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party needs Mitchell in order to hold its one-seat majority in the Minnesota Senate. Even with the majority, lawmakers have previously said there needed bipartisan support for any sports betting bill to pass.

For now, Mitchell remains in the Senate. An ethics panel can dismiss her due to probable cause for further investigation. Republicans have failed to remove her following her arrest. She has, though, been stripped of her committee assignments and will not participate in caucus meetings.

In a statement through her attorneys, Mitchell reaffirmed that she doesn’t plan to step down.

“I am confident that a much different picture will emerge when all of the facts are known. I am as committed to my constituents today as the day I was elected, including important work for veterans and children, and I do not intend to resign.”

House Republicans Confident Sports Betting Bill Won’t Pass Senate

House File 2000, which would legalize sports betting in Minnesota, passed the House Taxes Committee last week. But the Republican lawmakers who voted against the measure don’t believe the Senate will pass the measure.

Rep. Jon Koznick thinks the legislation will fall short this year.

“The bill doesn’t quite cross the finish line. I think it’s running out of steam and dying a slow, slow death.”

Mitchell’s arrest doesn’t totally end Minnesota’s chance to add sports betting in 2024. But it didn’t help.

Photo by Shutterstock
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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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