It still appears Minnesota sports betting will have to wait another year even after the state’s wagering bill cleared the House on Thursday.
Despite Thursday’s positive step, the Senate isn’t expected to pass the bill before the session ends May 23.
Minnesota HF 778, which was introduced by Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Rep. Zack Stephenson, passed through the Minnesota House by a 70-57 margin.
Minnesota’s sports betting bill includes a 10% tax rate on all sports betting transactions, with proceeds going towards the state’s general fund and to treat problem gambling in the state, with the remainder used to support youth sports programs in communities with high rates of juvenile crime.
The state’s market would launch July 1, 2023, with the House’s tax research division projecting $5.3 million in tax revenue during the 2024 fiscal year, with $12.2 million going into the state’s coffers in 2025.
Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, talked to reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday. He said there's not Senate support for the House version of the bill.
"If the stakeholders can come together and try to find some common ground where there are opportunities available at the tribal casinos as well as the tracks, and perhaps if there's something we can do to help benefit our charities, I think agreement could still get done this session," Miller said. "But we're running out of time for that to happen."
The House added amendments to the bill Thursday, including limiting advertisements for mobile sports betting, that would address concerns over problem gambling.
Earlier this year, the Minnesota Catholic Conference announced it was going to make stopping mobile sports betting a top priority.
What Else is Holding Up Minnesota’s Sports Betting Bill?
One of the major issues that came up when the Minnesota House debated HF 778 was its 10% tax rate, which drew consternation among liberal members the sum was too low and ridicule from conservatives that it was too high.
During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing in April, Stephenson pointedly addressed the sports betting tax rate, saying the state chose a lower rate to sway those using the “black market” to wager above board going forward.
“We have a huge black market in Minnesota — there’s $2 billion in Minnesota every year spent on this and none of that money goes to problem gaming,” Stephenson said. “It doesn’t mean that people don’t have a problem gaming. They do under our current system. So we need to be honest that this is a real problem that needs to be addressed.”
Stephenson’s comments came after Republican Rep. Tim Miller questioned why — if Minnesota wasn’t going to enforce a tax rate on par with neighboring states, such as Michigan (8.4%) — they would impose taxes on sports betting transactions at all.
In the state’s Senate, a main issue is the monopoly Minnesota’s tribes would have in holding all 11 of the state’s sports betting licenses, instead of splitting them with racetracks and professional sports venues.
As a result, sports fans in Minnesota might have to turn their eyes toward the next legislative session to get sports wagering on the books.