After a long and winding two-and-a-half month journey through the state’s legislature in St. Paul, it appears that any hopes left for Minnesota sports betting in 2023 are gone.
That’s the prognosis from Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Rep. Melissa Hortman, who serves as the speaker of the Minnesota House, as the ninth-term leader of the party threw cold water on any remaining hopes surrounding wagering this week.
Two bills, in SF-1949 and HF-2000, dealt with Minnesota sports betting during the 2023 session, though fractures between the state’s Native American tribes and race tracks ultimately doomed any action on the subject during this year’s session.
Hortman told reporters on Thursday that time had run out on considering either wagering bill this session, with the Minnesota legislature slated for sine die on May 22.
Sports betting industry insiders, such as Brendan Bussmann, who is a managing partner at B Global Advisors, told MinnesotaBets.com that the legislature’s second year in a row of failing to address wagering, while disappointing, doesn’t dim the state’s prospects going forward.
“It’s unfortunate that the clock ran out of time in Minnesota after diligent work by the tribal organizations in the state came together with a better solution from last year’s bill but could not come together into the end with because the tracks wanted a bigger payout,” Bussmann told MinnesotaBets.com.
“As we leave this session rounding the second turn, let’s hope that discussions can occur to come of a compromise with all stakeholders so we can round for home next session.”
What Doomed Sports Betting In 2023?
Unlike last year, when HF-778 passed the House (70-57) before stalling out on the Senate floor, no such votes were held on either bill in 2023.
Proponents of wagering hoped that this year’s outcome would be different, thanks to getting sports teams in the state to go along with both bills’ tribal-only sports betting licensure blueprint, though a thorn emerged in the form of the state’s two race tracks.
Both Canterbury Park and Running Aces objected to the bills’ plan to devote 11 sports betting licenses to Minnesota’s tribes, despite SF-1949 allocating 30% of state tax funding to an economic development fund aimed at aiding the tracks.
Canterbury Park Chairman and CEO Randy Sampson told MinnesotaBets.com in a statement that the track would support a solution that benefits tribes, tracks and teams, but not one that only served some of those factions.
“If a plan emerges that is satisfactory to each of these groups, Canterbury Park would support it,” he said.
Ultimately, the state’s sports betting efforts proved to be a case of too little, too late, with the clock striking midnight on the 2023 session before either wagering bill could clear the bicameral legislature in St. Paul.
Regardless, insiders like Bussmann see the state as a shoo-in to become a major player on the sports betting scene whenever it does go into effect.
“Minnesota will be a strong state when sports betting is passed and should reside with the tribal organizations,” Bussmann said. “It’s just going to take a little bit longer to get there.”
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