The Minnesota Legislature is winding down its 2023 session, and the prospects for lawmakers to pass a Minnesota sports betting bill this year are dwindling each day.
There is a bill, SF 1949, currently in the Senate. However, it has yet to hit the floor in that chamber as it’s been considered by five committees, given more time by another and currently sits in the Senate Finance Committee.
After the committee deliberated for three hours Monday night to pass a major spending bill, Chairman John Marty mentioned the panel could meet again. However, he did not mention any specific bills that could be discussed.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Finance Committee has no more meetings scheduled, although that can change before the legislature adjourns. That’s scheduled to happen Monday.
Discussions Continue Between Tracks and Tribes
The major sticking point in the bill now is that the current bill only gives the state’s 11 tribal gaming nations access to sports betting licenses. Minnesota’s two racetracks are excluded from hosting a brick-and-mortar sportsbook or partnering with an online operator.
State Sen. Matt Klein, SF1949’s primary sponsor, has repeatedly said that legalizing sports betting is about justice for tribes. However, he has offered a proposal that would give Canterbury Park and Running Aces funding from the tax revenue the state would receive from operators.
Under that plan, 30% of the state tax funding would be directed to an economic development fund for the tracks. However, once that fund hit $20 million in disbursements, it would be capped to no more than $3 million a year.
Track officials have said that funding would not be enough to offset the losses they expect once sports betting operators launch in the state.
Before the Taxes Committee last week, Klein told colleagues that representatives for both the tribes and the tracks continued to discuss the matter.
In a statement to MinnesotaBets, Canterbury Park Chairman and CEO Randy Sampson said a group of lawmakers have been trying to find a solution that would benefit the tracks, the tribes, and the state’s sports teams.
“If a plan emerges that is satisfactory to each of these groups, Canterbury Park would support it,” he said.
A message to the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association was not immediately returned.
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More Votes Needed For Sports Betting In Minnesota
It’s an issue because even though Democrats hold a majority in the Senate, it’s just a one-vote majority over Republicans in the 67-seat chamber. Not all Democrats are on board with expanding gaming, and Republicans have been hesitant to support a bill that excludes the tracks.
Not only would SF 1949 need to clear the Senate, but it also would need time to pass in the House. If that does not happen, lawmakers would need to take up the measure next year.
Sampson said he hopes top lawmakers in St. Paul would push sports betting legislation in the next session.
“If a sports betting bill is going to be delayed for another year, we hope that legislative leaders would bring all parties to the table together, so we can resolve this issue once and for all in 2024,” he said.
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