Committee considers legalized sports betting

The State Government Committee had an informational hearing on legalizing sports betting in Minnesota this week. No action was taken on the bill, but committee members had an opportunity to learn about the issue and hear from proponents and opponents as they consider taking potential action later this session.

This is a topic because of the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Murphy v. NCAA, which found Congress exceeded its authority by preventing states outside of Nevada from legalizing and regulating sports betting. Since that ruling, 12 states (AR, DE, IN, IA, NJ, NY, MS, WV, NM, OR, PA, RI) have moved to legalize sports betting in some format.

The Senate’s version of the bill would allow tribal casinos or the state’s two horse racetracks to apply for a sports pool operator license and operate sports pools. They could also contract with up to two electronic platforms to offer mobile betting, but those wishing to place bets would need to physically visit the casino or racetrack to register in person. Net revenues collected by the operators would be subject to a 6.75% tax, the same as Nevada’s gaming tax.

Supporters of the bill said the goal is not to increase revenue to the state, but to provide a legal, regulated market to encourage bettors to move away from the illegal markets on which they are currently participating. Opponents of the idea caution against expanding gambling, particularly on mobile sites that some argue make it easier for people to become addicted to the practice. Testimony pointed out the related state and social costs that often stem from problem gambling. (SF 1894)