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How SCOTUS' Sports Betting Ruling Could Affect Minnesota

COLUMBUS, Minn. (WCCO) -- Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, there's a game to be played at Running Aces Casino and Racetrack.

Gamblers can try their hand at blackjack, poker, or picking the longshot in a horse race.

And thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that struck down 25-year-old federal law banning sports betting, throwing down money on a MLB game could soon be possible.

"We know that people are gambling on sports and for it to be able to be regulated and come here, it's huge for us," said Aaron Bedessem, Marketing Director at Running Aces.

He said some customers are so excited they're already asking if they could wager on a game. But state lawmakers still need to draft their own bill to legalize it.

"Our goal to be part of the conversation, so whatever kind of rules and regulations they want to set that we can be a part of it and help shape what makes sense for the state," he said.

Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC, a research firm that specializes in gambling, released a report last year on the possibility of legal sports betting and its impact across the country. The report estimated that Minnesota could make $128 million in revenue on sports betting per year if it happened strictly in places like casinos. The number more than doubles if people are legally placing bets on the internet.

"The execution of sports betting is not an easy venture by any stretch of the imagination. It takes some pretty unique expertise to run a sports book," said DJ Leary, Director of Business Development for Eilers & Krejcik.

Leary said the expectation that small-time sports books and gambling establishments will start popping up on street corners is unlikely due to the intricacy, regulations, and licensing that comes with the gambling industry.

But the firm's report stated it's not out of the realm to envision one day placing a sports bet as easily as buying a lottery ticket, if the lottery industry was to get involved.

Regardless of how expansive sports betting becomes, casinos like Running Aces feel they've hit a jackpot.

"The atmosphere and the vibe here is positive. Everyone is excited for it," said Bedessem.

The Eilers & Krejcik report states that Minnesota and Wisconsin are likely to be "late adopters" of sports betting, meaning they would legalize sports betting within the next seven years. Other states like Connecticut have already passed a bill allowing sports betting pending the federal ban being lifted.

Minnesota's legislative session ends Monday, May 21.

Minnesota and Wisconsin also face a unique hurdle with the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association. It released a statement saying that it has long opposed expansion of gambling, but is willing to work with lawmakers on a sports gambling policy. The statement reads…

"This Supreme Court ruling, which effectively makes sports betting policy a matter for states to decide, was not unexpected.

"The current Minnesota legislative session will adjourn on May 21, so we expect that serious consideration of the sports betting issue will be deferred until the 2019 session.  Until then, MIGA tribes will take advantage of the interim to study the matter, conduct internal discussions, and work constructively with key legislative leadership to ensure that the tribal perspective is fully considered in the development of Minnesota's sports gambling policy.

"The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association has long opposed the expansion of gambling. Whenever new forms of gambling are proposed, Indian tribes must carefully consider how these changes could affect the enterprises that serve as our tax base to support our sovereign government operations, the tribal communities where we provide services and the broader communities that are impacted by the jobs that have been created to support our enterprises."

In less than a year, the NCAA Final Four will be hosted at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The American Gaming Association estimates that for this year's March Madness tournament, $10 billion was wagered on the games.

But 97 percent of it was done illegally.

Monday's Supreme Court ruling could significantly change that.

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