Tribal Money

The bill is moving forward in internal committee

Minnesota lawmakers have taken a step closer to legalizing mobile and retail sports betting Thursday morning when the House Ways and Means Committee passed House file 778.

State Representative Zack Stephenson, the bill’s lead sponsor, opened the hearing by noting that the bill had “travelled a lot,” having appeared before “seven or eight” committees to get to this point.

The bill is now presented to the full House for consideration.

Committee Amends Minnesota Sports Betting Bill

Before the final vote, Stephenson proposed an amendment to the bill making it self-sufficient. Under his amendment, the establishment and administration of sports betting in the state would be paid for from the revenue generated.

The amendment was adopted by voice vote.

State Representative Tim Miller proposed an amendment that would have eliminated the tax provisions from the bill. As written, the bill taxes the income of sports betting not conducted on 10% tribal lands.

State Representative Paul Garofalo, a co-sponsor, spoke out against the amendment, as did Stephenson, saying it would undermine the point of making the measure self-funding.

He failed by voice vote.

Specific details of sports betting legislation

As the bill traveled through the Minnesota House, it was amended several times. The latest version of the bill includes these provisions, among others:

  • 40% of sports betting tax revenue is dedicated to funding sports programs for young people in disadvantaged areas;
  • 40% of revenue goes to problem gambling programs;
  • Establishes two main licenses, one north of Interstate 94 and one south of Interstate 94.

Stephenson noted during the hearing that the amount of money spent on problem gambling is higher than other states because he takes the issue “very seriously.”

“During my day job as a prosecutor, I’ve seen the harm that comes from people making bad decisions. I know it happens. Most people don’t have a problem with gambling, but some have it and we have to offer it to them,” he said.

Under the terms of the agreement, Native American tribes in the state would administer mobile sports betting. The bill directs the governor and the tribes to formulate a new pact. The bill does not allow racetracks in the state to participate in sports betting.

Governor Tim Walz has previously indicated that he is open to sports betting legislation that has the concurrence of the state’s tribal interests.

In previous committee hearings, representatives of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Commission encouraged lawmakers to back the bill but stopped short of endorsing it outright.

Accompanying legislation, Senate File 574has been sent to the Senate Committee on Finance, Politics and State Government Elections, but has not yet had a hearing.

According to the Minnesota Constitution, the state legislature is about to adjourn before May 23.