With Tribes Objecting to Horse Track Licenses, What’s Next for Minnesota Sports Betting?

With Tribes Objecting to Horse Track Licenses, What’s Next for Minnesota Sports  Betting?
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

Ever wonder why it’s so difficult for politicians to get anything done? Take a look at Minnesota sports betting legislation.

The majority of Minnesotans and Minnesota legislators are in favor of it, and it still can’t pass. The legislative session for 2022 ended on May 23, and the latest hurdle seems to have been horse sense.

Make that horse racing sense.

A Senate committee wanted to add licenses for the state’s two horse racing tracks (Canterbury for thoroughbreds and Running Aces for harness racing) and possibly also sports teams into the gaming package. That idea died in the homestretch. 

The bill that passed the House (HF 778) would have given the state’s native tribes control over online and brick-and-mortar sports betting.

When the Senate added in the possibility of competition from racetracks and maybe the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, Wild, Lynx, and United FC, the tribes objected. 

At present, there is no online sports betting in Minnesota, except for horse racing.

“MIGA [Minnesota Indian Gaming Association] has consistently opposed the expansion of non-tribal commercial gaming and will continue to do so,” the letter from the tribes said.

Can Minnesota Move Past Issues in 2023?

So, where does Minnesota sports betting go from here? If you live in the southern part of the state, probably Iowa.

When the legislation comes up again in 2023, for what will be the fourth year, the same issues will remain. The Senate believes that the big players in sports betting are needed in Minnesota to provide more opportunities and a more even playing field for bettors. 

The tribes disagree. 

So far, the House and the governor are supporting the tribes. 

In the 2021 House Bill announced By Rep. Zack Stephenson from the northern Minneapolis suburbs, the 11 Minnesota tribes, who run all of the state’s 19 casinos, would each be awarded one skin (or opportunity) for an online site plus the ability to add a sportsbook to their casinos. 

It is likely, given what’s happened in other states, that the tribes would form partnerships with online specialists to run their mobile gaming.

Could New House Bill Mirror Senate’s?

Although the 2021 House Bill was bipartisan, the Democrat-Farm-Labor party controls the House and the Republicans control the Senate. If the Republicans take control of the House in the next election cycle, a bill more similar to the Senate bill is likely to gain traction. 

The tribes, however, are unlikely to support any bill that dilutes their control of Minnesota gambling. As Minnesota is running a surplus in terms of revenue, the additional tax money from sports gaming is unlikely to be as big a factor as it is in some other states. 

One other factor in play in Minnesota is that the state is not losing lots of sports betting money to neighboring states. The only neighboring state with online sports wagering is Iowa to the south. There’s no online sports betting in the Dakotas to the west or Wisconsin to the East.

Unless a special session is called, the House and Senate will reconvene on Jan. 3, 2023.



Howard Gensler
Journalist / Reporter

Howard Gensler is a veteran journalist covering the Minnesota sports betting market for MinnesotaBets.com. Before his focus on U.S. sports betting, Howard worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Howard is also a founding editor of bettorsinsider.com.