ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- The Minnesota House on Thursday passed a bill that would legalize sports gambling at state casinos and online, a move that would make Minnesota on the same page as its neighboring states which already offer it.
"The pressure has really been building for us to do something here in Minnesota," said Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, who's met with key stakeholders for months. "No one from Minnesota should have to go to Iowa to have fun. That's kind of the motto here. We should have the ability to do this safely, legally and with guard rails here in Minnesota."
It passed Thursday evening 70-57.
The proposal would allow sports betting in the state's tribal casinos and through mobile apps. The casinos would control the online gambling and the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, which represents the tribes, supports the bill.
Passage of any legislation would mark the most significant change in gaming law in 40 years.
Minnesota is one of just a few states that does not have some sort of legal sports gambling operation, according to data tracked by the American Gaming Association. All surrounding states to Minnesota have legalized it, but only Iowa has an online option.
Of the revenues brought in from any sports gambling, the money would be divided with half going to addiction treatment and the other half going to a fund run by the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. In that account, 20% of those funds would go to promoting the integrity of amateur sports and the remaining 80% would support youth sports in areas experiencing a high rate of juvenile crime.
In the Senate, there are bills that haven't moved forward that include allowing bets at the state's racetracks, too, not exclusively at the casinos.
GOP Sen. Majority Leader Jeremy Miller said recently that a plan without racetracks included, it wouldn't get the support from his caucus.
"When it comes to sports betting, we need those stakeholders to continue to have discussions. It cannot be one-sided," Miller said. "I know it wouldn't pass the Senate—I can't speak for the House."
The House and Senate will need to come to agreement before session ends May 23.
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