With only a few days left in the 2022 legislative session, a Minnesota Senate panel advanced legislation Thursday to legalize sports betting in the state.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the measure on a 5-4 vote and sent it to the full Senate for a final vote.
“It’s safe. It’s fun, and a lot of people engage in this activity,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes.
The Senate bill differs from one previously passed by the House. Both versions allow sports betting online and in Indian casinos. But the Senate version also allows sports betting at the state’s two horse racing tracks.
Chamberlain said he wants competition.
“We believe it’s important as well to have the tracks involved in this as we go forward, to provide a solid product for the consumer across the board, and make it available in different venues and different locations for the consumer,” he said.
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It’s unclear when the Senate might vote on the bill. Lawmakers face a midnight Sunday deadline for passing bills.
The bill received bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition in the committee.
Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, raised concerns about the expansion of gambling.
“Every time we expand gambling, we have a bigger problem with it,” Marty said.
Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, complained about a lack of public testimony on the late-in-session bill.
“The voice of the people of Minnesota can’t be at the testimony table,” Kiffmeyer said. “They’re shut out from all this.”