Home » Time is Running Out on Minnesota’s Sports Betting Hopes

Time is Running Out on Minnesota’s Sports Betting Hopes

Karl Anthony Towns of the Timberwolves.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

  • A sports betting bill was tabled in the Minnesota House of Representatives after a marathon 12-hour session
  • The House is still likely to approve sports betting, but hurdles remain in the Senate
  • Only two days remain in Minnesota’s legislative session

Time is running out on Minnesota’s legislative session as the state’s sports betting hopes are hanging on by a thread.

A Minnesota sports betting bill was not brought up during yesterday’s marathon 12-hour House of Representatives floor session. The calendar for the day only included seven bills, but the House members only took action on five of them.

Rep. Zack Stephenson’s sports betting bill, HF 5274, was tabled at the conclusion of the meeting and will have another chance at approval when the House reconvenes on Friday, May 17, at 11 a.m. CST.

Time Dwindling on Minnesota Legislative Session

The language of Stephenson’s original sports betting bill, HF 2000, was officially placed in his bill HF 5274 to prohibit historical horse racing machines at state racetracks during a House Ways and Means Committee Meeting last week.

The bill now includes sports betting language and a prohibition of historical horse racing machines at state racetracks.

It was widely expected that the House of Representatives would discuss Stephenson’s legislation during yesterday’s floor session, but after more than 12-hours of discussion on just a handful of laws, his sports betting bill was tabled.

Only two days remain for legislative actions in Minnesota’s session. Sports betting is still expected to pass the House, but faces a number of hurdles for approval in the Senate. Most glaringly, Minnesota tribes and state horse tracks still have yet to reach a potential revenue sharing agreement despite recent negotiations.

Several members of the House of Representatives Taxes Committee moved a sports betting bill along on April 30, but expressed serious doubt during the meeting that the legislation had any chance of approval in the Minnesota Senate.

“It may pass the House, but it will not pass the Senate,” Rep. Greg Davids (R-26B) said at the meeting.

Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-26) posted a sports betting update to his X feed earlier this week, noting that there is a path for sports betting legalization, but it is a narrow one at this point.

“There is still a path to get sports betting done, but it’s a very narrow path. What we need to do is find a solution that benefits the tribes as well as the tracks. I remain committed to working together with both the tribes and the tracks, and all the other stakeholders and legislators on both sides of the aisle, to try to find a solution to get it done this year,” he said.

Sports Betting Bill Details

Stephenson’s bill provides exclusive control of retail and online sports betting to the following 11 state tribes:

  • Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
  • Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Grand Portage Band of Chippewa
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Lower Sioux Indian Community
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Prairie Island Indian Community
  • Red Lake Nation
  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
  • Upper Sioux Community
  • White Earth Nation

Minnesota professional sports franchises also support this bill.

His bill also specifically prohibits historical horse racing (HHR) machines in Minnesota’s state racetracks. Last month, the Minnesota Racing Commission voted to allow 500 HHR machines in the state’s two racetracks, Canterbury Park and Running Aces.

Last month, the Running Aces Casino, Hotel & Racetrack filed a lawsuit against three Minnesota Tribal casinos for offering what they claim is illegal card games in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act.

Further muddling the issue, Running Aces amended its lawsuit earlier this week claiming that Minnesota’s state tribes violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) by offering video slots and games of chance at its casinos. The track added Mystic Lake and Little Six Casinos to the lawsuit, both of which are owned by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

The original lawsuit only included Grand Casino Hinckley, Grand Casino Mille Lacs, and Treasure Island Resort & Casino. Both Grand Casinos are owned by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and Treasure Island Resort & Casino is owned by the Prairie Island Indian Community.

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