Pro sports leagues gear up for betting battle in Minnesota

Almost all of the major professional sports leagues have made their Minnesota draft picks -- the lobbyists they've chosen to watch over a debate on sports betting almost certainly coming to the state Capitol next year.

Since the start of June, the leagues for pro baseball, basketball, football and golf have registered new lobbyists. Only the National Hockey League hasn't formed a team. Several of the leagues had Minnesota lobbyists on retainer before, but next year their focus on state legislatures could intensify.

That's because the U.S. Supreme Court last spring struck down a law that had made sports betting off limits in most states. The professional sports leagues have been arguing in some places that they deserve a portion of the sports betting money pools.

Some of the newly inked lobbyists are from local firms, but not all of them are.

A notable exception is Scott Ward, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who in the past has done work for daily wagering sites FanDuel and DraftKings. He registered on behalf of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the PGA Tour. He has been involved in sports betting debates in other state capitols, according to news reports.

The National Football League has added a team of local lobbyists that has done previous work for the Minnesota Vikings, too.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is Member supported public media. Show your support today, donate, and ensure access to local news and in-depth conversations for everyone.