Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Amended To Ban In-Game Wagering

Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Amended To Ban In-Game Wagering
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

A state Senate committee amended a Minnesota sports betting bill this week. The bill’s sponsor said the changes were needed to move the bill forward, but others argued one drastic change within it might represent a step back.

The Senate Finance Committee approved a number of changes offered by state Sen. Jordan Rasmusson, R-Fergus Falls, to Senate File 1949 that he said deal with problem gaming issues. The one that drew the most attention was the ban on live betting during games.

Rasmusson told his colleagues that in-game betting, also called microbetting, is a serious concern because it creates hundreds of betting opportunities within a game or an event. Rather than just betting on a team to win, bettors in the state also would be able to wager on the outcome of the next play or possession on their Minnesota sportsbook apps.

Bill sponsor and Committee Chair Matt Klein, DFL-Mendota Heights, said the amendments were requested by Finance Committee Chair John Marty, DFL-Roseville, whose committee will take up SF 1949 next. He added that Rasmusson spoke to him “very convincingly” about the in-game betting ban.

“If this version of the sports wagering bill becomes law, it will be the safest sports wagering bill in the nation,” Klein said.

Klein also conceded that representatives for the potential Minnesota sportsbooks and the tribal casino operators that would partner with them (there are no Minnesota online casinos) would oppose such restrictions. And they did, shortly after his comments. Jeremy Kudon, president of the Sports Betting Alliance, told the committee that in-game wagering represents half of the current market and that it is expected to grow to 75% by the end of the decade.

As a result, Kudon added it would gut estimated operator revenues and state tax receipts significantly.

“This amendment is nothing short of a gift to illegal operators,” he said, noting offshore bookmakers will still continue to offer those to bettors in the state.

Analysis: Amendment Goes Too Far, Doesn’t Ensure Passage

As Peter Callaghan of MinnPost.com noted in his article Wednesday, the approved amendment seemed to take the breath away from sports betting proponents.

Rasmusson’s amendment has good intentions. In-game betting can be an issue for individuals with problem gambling behaviors. A recent Boston Globe story noted one bettor who said he wagered $1,000 on whether a pitch in a Boston Red Sox game would be a ball or strike.

However, an outright ban seems to be a step too far. As Kudon noted, individuals will still have ample opportunity to bet on those markets through offshore books. In addition, the ban would also block Minnesota sports betting operators from offering adjusted point spreads, moneylines and totals during the game. Those markets can be lucrative for some bettors who can correctly pick when a team will rally to win a game.

Further, MinnesotaBets.com has learned that even though the amendment was offered by a Republican senator, it’s not actually likely to attract any GOP votes should SF 1949 make it to the Senate floor. That’s key since it appears that not every Democratic-Farmer-Laborer member will vote for it.

Even if it somehow makes it through the Senate, a key lawmaker in the House made it clear that the proposal would not fare well in his chamber. State Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, described the outright ban as “unworkable” in a post Wednesday on X (formerly known as Twitter).

“No state in the country has that type of ban,” he said. “If sports gambling is going to happen this session, this poison pill will need to be removed.”

Amendment Also Mandates Self-Imposed Limits

Rasmusson’s amendment also would require bettors to set limits when they sign up with a sports wagering app (many of which would offer Minnesota sports betting promo codes for signing up). Those limits would cut off bettors if they lose a certain amount within a 24-hour or 30-day period. Bettors would also need to establish a limit for how much time they spend on an app during a 24-hour span.

If bettors choose not to set limits, sportsbooks would establish default restrictions that would keep account holders from losing more than $500 in a day, $3,000 in a month or spending four continuous hours on an app. The amendment also establishes a minimum 72-hour cooling-off period for bettors who choose not to set their own limits.

“These are self-imposed limits but would create friction for individuals who are perhaps experiencing problem gambling and allow folks to intervene,” Rasmusson said.

It’s uncertain when the Senate Finance Committee will take up SF 1949.



Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.