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Sports Betting Bill Heads To Minnesota Senate Floor For Vote

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- State lawmakers took another step towards legalizing sports betting in Minnesota Thursday.

The Senate Finance Committee passed their sports betting bill by a vote of 5-4.

This comes a week after the House voted to pass their own version of a sports gambling bill.

Thursday morning's debate in the Senate didn't come without pushback, as lawmakers against sports betting in Minnesota voiced their concerns.

"I'm sure you've seen that all these poor neighborhoods have the highest risk of being problem gamblers," said Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, Minneapolis (DFL).

Just like the bill that passed in the House, revenue from sports betting would go towards things like treatment for gambling addiction, youth sports and charities.

But one major difference is that the Senate bill includes race tracks in addition to casinos – something the Indian Gaming Commission has opposed.

"Every Vikings game now, you are going to have ads on the TV screen marketing it now. They aren't aimed at kids under 21 because that's prohibited in the bill, but I don't know how you are going to stop it from getting there," said Sen. John Marty, Roseville (DFL).

Supporters, like chief author of the bill Sen. Roger Chamberlain, countered with their own takes.

"If you are so upset, what are you going to do about pull-tabs? Was anyone around for that? Senator Marty? Did you vote for the state lottery?" Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain said Minnesotans already go to neighboring states for sports betting. After the bill passed the Finance Committee, Chamberlain said they'll have to work quickly to get a final bill passed before the session ends.

"It'll be tight. Unless we can work out details ahead of time, get to the floor and maybe work out details ahead of time," said Chamberlain.

Both the House and Senate bills include online sports betting as well.

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