Minnesota lawmakers start push for legal sports betting

Canterbury Park
Horses and jockeys give it their all during a race at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., in August 2010.
Photo by Cary Rothschild via Flickr

Some state lawmakers are hoping that Minnesota will join half the states in the country to legalize sports betting.  

The legislation would allow on-site wagering at casinos and racetracks in the state, according to Senate sponsor, Sen. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove. After a year, she said it would allow remote sports betting through those sites. 

“It’s already done flagrantly and it’s time to shine some light on it, put some guardrails around it, protections around it,” Bigham said. “Quite honestly, we need to legalize it.” 

The bill as written would tax bets on site at 6 percent and remotely at 8 percent. All revenues would go to the state general fund, Bigham said. 

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, the House sponsor of the bill, said legalizing sports betting would allow more protections for Minnesota consumers. 

“This is something that people are ready to see happen,” Garofalo said. “They are sick of driving to Iowa...or using off-shore sports books.”

Minnesota’s tribal nation’s have consistently opposed the legalization of sports betting in the past. Other efforts at the state Legislature to legalize betting have fallen short. 

Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is open to discussing legalizing sports betting, but he said he would prefer that lawmakers consider legalizing cannabis, which would potentially generate more revenue and could address some racial disparities in the state.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said the sports betting bill is unlikely to be considered this year, given the complexities of holding a legislative session during the pandemic and trying to pass a new two-year state budget. It could be more likely on the agenda for next year, he said. 

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