Legalized sports betting may be coming to Minnesota. Just not anytime soon.
A brief letter by a major player in the world of legal gambling has changed the politics around the problem of sports gambling in Minnesota. At least for now.
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 gambling 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 probably oppose passing of legislation to include Minnesota to the growing list of states with legalized sports gambling. «The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association continues to oppose the expansion of off-reservation gambling, including the legalization of sports betting,» he wrote.
The seven casino-owning tribes at Minnesota combine a group of allies in opposing sports betting bills this year, including groups such as Citizens Against Gambling Expansion, which concerns about the ill effects of gambling, such as addiction.
The tribes don’t possess a veto over non-tribal gambling, but their voices are influential, especially among DFLers like Gov. Tim Walz and the new House majority. Under federal law, states need to deal in good faith to permit tribes to offer the very same types of gambling that is legal off-reservation.
Until a U.S. Supreme Court decision last spring cleared the way for states to provide sports betting like what is lawful in Nevada casino sports books, that legislation was not an issue in Minnesota. Now it is. By a 6-3 majority, the court ruled in Murphy v. NCAA that Congress exceeded its power by preventing states from legalizing and regulating sports gambling. The case had been brought by New Jersey, which desired to provide an increase to its fighting Atlantic City casinos, and had attempted a series of legal moves to end the federal ban against sports gambling in most states except Nevada.
From the vast majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. wrote that Congress has the authority to pass legislation to regulate sports betting itself. But when it decides not to, every nation is free to do so, and many have done just that.
A draft bill circulated at the Minnesota capitol in the conclusion of the 2018 session but no formal bill was filed and no hearings were held. Supporters of the law, headed by Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Blaine, have been coordinating a bill for this session,.
Chamberlain, who’s chair of the Senate Taxes Committee, was surprised and a little disappointed at the tribes’ position, which he discovered about via Twitter. «We met with them and while they’re not always in alignment they are clearly worried about losing their economic foundation, the economic engine,» Chamberlain said. «We understand that. We have reassured them that we’re 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 mobile gambling must be part of the state law since that’s where much of the betting action is.
But Chamberlain said he’s optimistic that it remains subject to negotiations, and he said he believes it could be a win for the nation, the tribes and to get non-tribal gambling. «There is no reason to shut the rest of the state and the remainder of the possible consumers and players and operators from getting involved in a perfectly safe and legal business,» he explained. «We expect to get to a location where everybody can agree and I think we can.»
Once it appears clear that tribes would have the ability to give sports betting in their casinos if it’s made valid for non-tribal gaming, legal advisors note that sports gambling sets up some hard choices such as tribes. The primary issue is that betting on sports — on the outcomes of matches, on scores and other results — is not especially rewarding for casinos. The other is that under federal law, tribes may only offer betting within the boundaries of reservations. This makes the most-promising aspect of sports betting — distant betting online or via mobile devices — might be off limits to them, but to not non-tribal sports books.
Chamberlain said cellular gambling must be a part of the state law since that’s where a lot of the betting action is. Part of the rationale for legalizing it state by state would be to catch some of the bets now made lawfully.
«In this economy and culture you require mobile access to become profitable,» Chamberlain said.
Online betting would likewise make gambling available in remote and rural parts of the state that might not have casinos or even industrial sports books near. 1 possible solution for those tribes would be to declare the gaming takes place where a player’s telephone is, but where the computer server that processes the wager is located. That is far from resolved law, however.
«We can find our way around those issues and get it done,» Chamberlain said.
Vig is chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota, which possesses the Mystic Lake and Little Seven casinos, did not close the door on ultimate tribal interest in sport betting. He did, however, ask the state to move slowly.
«While there’s a desire by some to look at this issue during the present session, it seems that the general public interest would be served first by careful study of sports gambling’s implications in this state, evaluation of other nations’ experiences where sports betting betting has been legalized, and comprehensive consultation with the large number of stakeholders interested in it,» Vig wrote.
A spokesman for the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association said leaders weren’t readily available for interviews and Vig’s letter are their only statement on the issue.
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
The chair of the House committee that could consider any sports betting statements said the tribal association’s letter does not alter her position on the problem. Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, said that there are still no patrons within her caucus pushing a statement. Before the tribes left their position known, Halverson said she intended to be cautious and deliberate on the subject.
«I’ve yet to watch language or possess anything introduced,» she said.
But she anticipates legislation will surface, and she wishes to have at least an information hearing so lawmakers can understand the consequences and hear out of both backers and competitions. «I believe we are all in learning mode,» she said. «When something is this brand new, that’s the legislative model typically. Things take time and we need to be deliberative about such major changes to Minnesota law.»
In a press conference Wednesday,» Walz stated his basic position on the problem will be to legalize and regulate. But he said that should come only after a procedure for hearings and debate. «I expect adults to make adult decisions,» he explained of gaming. «I also recognize that addiction comes in many forms, if that’s alcohol, tobacco or cannabis or sports gambling and those can have social consequences that are pretty catastrophic.
«When the Legislature chooses to accept that up, we’re definitely interested in working together to get it right,» Walz said.
Read more: montanayouthrugby.org
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