Legalized sports betting may be coming to Minnesota. Just not anytime soon.

A brief letter by a significant player in the world of legal gambling has altered the politics around the issue of sports betting in Minnesota. At least for today.
Last week, Charles Vig, the seat of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, composed Gov. Tim Walz and the four legislative leaders to state the nation’s gaming tribes weren’t interested in adding sports betting to their offerings.
But he didn’t stop there. In the letter, Vig said the tribes will oppose passage of legislation to add Minnesota to the growing list of states with legalized sports betting. “The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association continues to oppose the expansion of off-reservation gaming, including the legalization of sport gambling,” he wrote.
The seven casino-owning tribes in Minnesota combine a group of unusual allies in opposing sports betting bills this season, including groups like Citizens Against Gambling Expansion, which concerns about the ill effects of gambling, including dependency.
The tribes do not have a veto over non-tribal gaming, but their voices are powerful, particularly among DFLers such as Gov. Tim Walz and the new House majority. Under federal law, states need to bargain in good faith to permit tribes to offer you the very same types of gambling that is legal off-reservation.
Until a U.S. Supreme Court decision last spring cleared the way for countries to provide sports betting similar to what’s lawful in Nevada casino gambling books, that law wasn’t a problem in Minnesota. Now it is. With a 6-3 majority, the court ruled in Murphy v. NCAA that Congress exceeded its authority by preventing states from legalizing and regulating sports gambling. The case was brought by New Jersey, which wanted to give a boost to its fighting Atlantic City casinos, also had tried a series of legal moves to end the federal ban against sports gambling in most states except Nevada.
From the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. wrote that Congress has the authority to pass laws to regulate sports gambling itself. However, when it decides not to, then each state is free to do so, and several have already done exactly that.
A draft bill circulated at the Minnesota capitol in the end of the 2018 session however no formal invoice was ever filed and no hearings were held. Supporters of the law, headed by Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Blaine, have been preparing a bill for this session,.
Chamberlain, who’s chair of the Senate Taxes Committee, was amazed and a bit disappointed in the tribes’ place, which he found out about through Twitter. “We met with them and while they are not necessarily in alignment they are obviously worried about losing their economic base, the economic engine,” Chamberlain said. “We know that. We’ve reassured them that we are not interested in damaging that interest or jeopardizing tribal compacts.”
State Sen. Roger Chamberlain
Courtesy of Senate Media Services
State Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Blaine, stated cellular betting must be a part of this state law since that’s where a lot of the gambling action is.
But Chamberlain said he is optimistic that it remains subject to negotiations, and he said he thinks it could be a win for the state, the tribes and for non-tribal gambling. “There’s no reason to shut out the remainder of the country and the rest of the potential customers and players and operators from taking part in a totally safe and legal firm,” he explained. “We expect to get into a location where everybody can agree and I think we could.”
While it seems evident that tribes would be able to offer sports betting in their own casinos if it is made legal for non-tribal gaming, legal advisors notice that sports gambling sets up some hard choices for tribes. The first issue is that gambling on sports — about the outcomes of games, on scores and other outcomes — is not especially lucrative for casinos. The other is that under national law, tribes can only offer gambling within the boundaries of reservations. That makes the most-promising facet of sports betting — remote gambling online or through mobile devices — might be off limits to them, but to not non-tribal sports novels.
Chamberlain said cellular gambling must be part of this state law since that’s where a lot of the gambling action is. Part of the rationale for legalizing it state by state is to capture some of the stakes made illegally.
“In this economy and culture you need mobile access to become profitable,” Chamberlain said.
Online betting would likewise make gaming available in remote and rural parts of the country that might not have casinos or commercial sports books near. One possible solution for the tribes would be to announce the gambling takes place not where a player’s telephone is, but in which the computer server which processes the wager is situated. That is far from solved law, nevertheless.
“We can find our way around these issues and do it,” Chamberlain said.
Vig is chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota, which possesses the Mystic Lake and Little Six casinos, didn’t close the door on ultimate tribal interest in sports gambling. He did, however, ask the state to move gradually.
“While there is a desire by some to consider this matter during the present session, it appears that the general public interest will be served first by careful analysis of sports betting’s consequences in this state, evaluation of other states’ experiences where sports gambling was legalized, and thorough consultation with the high number of stakeholders interested in it,” Vig wrote.
A spokesman for the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association said pioneers were not available for interviews and Vig’s letter are their only statement on the problem.
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
The seat of the House committee that would consider any sports betting bills said the tribal association’s letter doesn’t change her position on the problem. Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, said there are still no patrons within her caucus pushing a statement. Before the tribes left their position known, Halverson stated she intended to be careful and deliberate on the subject.
“I have yet to see language or have anything introduced,” she said.
But she anticipates laws will surface, and that she wants to possess at least an information hearing so lawmakers will understand the impacts and listen out of both backers and opponents. “I believe we are all in learning mode,” she said. “If something is that brand new, that’s the legislative model typically. Things take time and we need to be deliberative about such major modifications to Minnesota law.”
In a press conference Wednesday,” Walz said his fundamental position on the issue is to legalize and regulate. But he said that should come only after a process of hearings and discussion. “I trust adults to make mature decisions,” he said of gambling. “I also realize that dependence comes in many forms, whether that be alcohol, tobacco or cannabis or sports gambling and these can have societal effects that are pretty devastating.
“When the Legislature chooses to accept that up, we are certainly interested in working together to make it right,” Walz said.

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