Minnesota lawmakers are considering a regulated gaming expansion that would legalize sports betting in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and put complete control of the newly expanded market in the hands of the state’s tribal groups. It’s a unique approach to gaming expansion that could bring huge, new revenue streams to a group of operators that have long opposed expansion of any kind.
Under the proposed expansion, sports betting would be legal statewide and would include features that have become the standard in regulated sports betting states across the country. Players would be allowed to place wagers in person at tribal casinos, and statewide on mobile betting apps. Tribal operators would have complete control of the market, but would be partnering with national operators such as Draft Kings.
The bill has the support of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA), an organization that has long opposed expansion of any kind. In a letter to lawmakers reported on by BringMetheNews.com, executive director of MIGA, Andy Platto voiced the tribes’ support for the bill saying, “Were your bill to become law, MIGA Tribes believe the resulting mobile and retail markets operated by Minnesota’s Tribal Nations would not only support Tribes, but would also provide a well-regulated and accessible market for the state’s sports bettors and a competitive market that is important to our state’s professional sports teams and market partners.”
Both lawmakers and tribal operators agree that regulated sports betting isn’t likely to bring in huge amounts of revenue. With a very generous (to operators) tax rate of 10 percent on revenue, the expansion is only expected to raise $10-$12 million a year for state coffers. What matters more to all involved is preventing the loss of customers to black market operators. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Zach Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids), confirmed this idea saying, “We’re not doing this to raise revenue for the state of Minnesota, we’re doing this to transition from an illicit market to a legitimate market and to put guardrails on the activity.”
At this point, it’s unclear whether Stephonson’s bill has enough support to move out of the State Senate.