New push coming to legalize sports betting in Minnesota

Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph is carried off the field
Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph is carried off the field by teammates after kicking the game-winning field goal against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 10 in Minneapolis. Key lawmakers in the Minnesota House and Senate say they will back legislation next year to legalize sports betting in the state.
Elsa | Getty Images file

A key Minnesota lawmaker says he will lead another push next session to legalize sports betting.

Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, said Thursday that Minnesotans should be able to engage in safe and legal sports betting the same way people can in other states. Stephenson, who chairs the House commerce committee, said he wants to start a conversation on a bill that is yet to be written.

“The legalization of sports betting will be the most significant change to Minnesota’s gaming laws in many years,” Stephenson said. “The issue is very complex. There are countless different ways that we could structure sports betting. Thirty-two states have legalized sports betting in the United States, and I think it’s fair to say each one of them has taken a different approach.”

Stephenson said he wants to consult with the state’s Native American tribes about the legislation.

The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association has opposed previous sports betting bills, but its stance may be changing.

“The tribal governments making up MIGA have been examining the various ways sports betting has been implemented across the country and its impacts on tribal communities,” said the association’s executive director, Andy Platto, in a statement. “As gaming experts, tribes stand ready to share this expertise with lawmakers considering the future of sports betting in Minnesota.”

The state Senate has also been resistant in the past to legalized sports betting. But Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, said he plans to introduce legislation again next session.

“You work hard for your money, and if you want to place a little money in support of your favorite team, you shouldn’t have to drive to Iowa or use an international gambling app to do it. Sports wagering is good entertainment,” Chamberlain said.

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