Odds Shorten on Minnesota Sports Betting Becoming Legal in 2025


Efforts to legalize sports betting in Minnesota failed earlier this month for the sixth year in a row.

Minnesota sports betting
Minnesota Rep. Zach Stephenson is optimistic about sports betting’s odds of passing in the General Assembly next year. Though 2024 wasn’t the year when a sports betting bill crossed the finish line, a compromise has finally been found that appeases varying interests that stand to be impacted by the gaming expansion. (Image: Star Tribune)

States obtained the legal authority to determine their own laws regarding sports gambling after the US Supreme Court in May 2018 overturned a federal law that had limited single-game sports wagering to Nevada. Minnesota Democrats who sponsored the 2024 bill say they were closer than ever to bringing legal sports gambling to the state.

Sports betting, like most other topics in the Saint Paul capital, was largely partisan. Democrats, officially Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) members, found a compromise that they say appeased all interests that would be involved in retail and online sports betting.

DFLers said the state’s Native American tribes, horse racetracks, professional sports teams, and charities didn’t oppose House File 2000, but politicking in the State Capitol got in the way and led to the sports betting bill being just shy of the needed votes to pass the House chamber.

Minnesota Momentum

Though it will presumably give Minnesotans who want to bet legally on sports little comfort, the chief sponsor of the 2024 sports betting bill is optimistic that 2025 will be the year that sports betting clears the finish line.

We’re going to come up just short on the sports betting bill this year,” Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Anoka) tweeted about the sports betting shortcoming. “But in the last few days, we proved that we could find a deal that all the major stakeholders could live with.”

Stephenson added that there was “meaningful progress that can be a foundation for the future.”

The 2024 sports betting compromise would have provided tribal nations with the exclusive rights to online sports betting. The state would have received 22% of the net win.

Of the tax money, 45% would have gone to charitable gaming, 15% to the two horse racetracks, 10% to recruit major sporting events to the state, 10% to problem gambling programs, and 5% to youth sports.

The remaining 15% would be deposited into a “tribal equalization” fund that would have been dispersed to smaller tribes or tribes whose partnered online sportsbook failed to secure ample market share. The stipulation was crafted to assure that the more powerful tribes that own the larger tribal casinos in the state don’t also command the lion’s share of the sports betting benefit.

HHR Overturn 

While legal sports betting will remain on the sidelines in Minnesota for at least another year, lawmakers did pass one piece of gaming legislation.

After the Minnesota Racing Commission in April told Canterbury Park and Running Aces they could place slot-like historical horse racing (HHR) machines at their tracks, pushback from the tribes ensued. That led to lawmakers swiftly endorsing Senate Fille 2219 to prohibit the machines that are based on previously run horse races from the state.

“We are disappointed that the only gaming bill that passed this year will prevent our racetracks from increasing purses by using Historical Horse Racing,” said Randy Sampson, chief executive at Canterbury Park. “We believe this proposal deserves a much closer look than it was given by the legislators.”

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