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Changes to Minnesota's highly anticipated sports gambling bill would prohibit in-game bets

New changes to Minnesota's sports gambling bill calls in-game bets out of bounds
New changes to Minnesota's sports gambling bill calls in-game bets out of bounds 01:48

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Minnesotans would legally be able to place bets on their favorite sports teams, but only before the game starts under a bill that advanced in the state Senate this week. The most recent version would prohibit in-game wagers and establish Minnesota as the only state in the country with a ban like it.

Supporters of the change say these bets fuel problem gambling and the provision works as a safeguard. But putting money down while the game is underway–like betting on if a player will score a certain number of points in the first half—is also very popular, drawing opposition from the companies offering online sportsbooks and tribal casinos, which would be granted the exclusive rights to state licenses in the proposal.

"If we're taking a product safety approach or are being cautious, this is one common sense thing for us to adopt," said Sen. Jordan Rasmusson, R-Fergus Falls, who offered the amendment that included the in-game bet ban.

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Minnesota is an island in the region where sports gambling is still illegal, and it's among the minority of states nationwide that haven't passed legislation following the U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the door for legalization. Thirty-eight and Washington, D.C. allow sports gambling in-person at retail locations or casinos, according to the American Gaming Association. Some also allow for online betting, which Minnesota's proposal includes. 

Jeremy Kudon, president of the Sports Betting Alliance— a coalition that includes market giants FanDuel and DraftKings—told the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday that 50% of all bets in the U.S. are in-game wagers and his team estimates that is likely to grow.  He opposed the change and noted that doing so would also slash the revenues the state is poised to collect from lawful sports gambling. 

"This amendment is nothing short of a gift to illegal operators," he told the panel. 

There's another bill moving through the House this year, but it doesn't include the same exclusion. Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, is a long-time advocate for legalization and has supported previous efforts in the past, said he would vote no if it's included in the final version.

"Having that provision in there would not allow a regulated sports gambling market to exist in Minnesota," he said. "It's a poison pill— well-intentioned, I'm sure, by the advocates, but it would really be prohibitive."

A spokesperson for the American Gaming Association said in an email that Minnesota would stand alone banning in-game betting.

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Sen. Matt Klein, DFL- Mendota Heights, the bill's author, acknowledged that there's pushback and that the law– if this passes both chambers— could be changed later on. But he believes it's prudent to include the ban, so Minnesota has the "safest sports wagering bill in the nation."

"The prohibition on in-game wagering just says get all your betting lined up before the whistle blows and then you're done for that game," he said. 

Changes adopted in the commerce committee this week also require users to set limits on the amount of bets a person can place or money a person can use in a single day. There would also be a "robust" gambling helpline staffed 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

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