A recent amendment to Sen. Matt Klein’s sports betting legalisation bill has re-infused Minnesota’s hopes of a statewide gambling expansion. 37 US states currently adhere to legislation that regulates and permits the operation of sports betting activities on various diverse levels. Minnesota is one such state which has as of yet been unable to follow suit.
This amendment is another effort in the push to legalise sports betting at a state-wide level, with authors of the legislation passing a bill off the floor last year which would have seen Minnesotans over the age of 21 allowed to place bets at casinos or through online sportsbooks.
Issues arose in the detail that Native American tribes were offered, as owners and operators of casinos, exclusive licences for sports betting activities. A factor that was not favoured by Republicans who preferred the bill to to consider race tracks, thus the proposal did not make it through the entirety of the legislature.
Under the Senator’s amended plan, sports betting would be taxed at 10%, with 30% of this annual sum being allocated to a development fund for the state’s race tracks, capped at $20 million. In addition to this fee, the tracks will also split a further $3 million per annum.
Tellingly Senator Klien expressed an optimistic stance stating “if people are motivated to get something done, then they will”.
Despite Klein’s positivity however, the tracks are not so exuberant about the bill’s success, as they are currently seeking a more significant role in Minnesota’s gambling expansion. Representatives of 2 race tracks have spoken at a committee hearing against the bill.
Ideally the race course could be permitted to offer sports betting themselves as CEO of Canterbury Park racetrack, Randy Sampson claims the 30% of tax revenue would not be even close to sufficient in compensating for their loss of direct revenue from offering their own track side sports book.
Some have suggested that race tracks be permitted to operate other gambling related activities such as roulette craps to remunerate their losses.
In addition to the race track’s pressure, the Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association testified that the casino’s support would remain unwavering even with the inclusion of the racetracks, at least in the form proposed by the amendment.
In lieu of these complains and uncertainty Senator Klien made this subsequent statement:
We will continue to work with tracks to try to satisfy their concerns; that’s not out of the question. But at the end of the day, each individual legislator needs to decide if they’re willing to vote against a bill that is what Minnesotans are demanding.
There is certainly a significant market within Minnesota for sports betting. In data provided by GeoComply, Minnesotans attempted to access sports books from states that have already achieved legalisation nearly 1 million separate times during this year’s NFL season and March Madness alone.
There is still much navigating to be done in order to bring sports betting to Minnesota, however, at the same time there are many options and courses of action for legislators and policy makers to consider, making success a case of decision making and perhaps not so much of luck.
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