Minnesota lawmaker plans path for sports betting after Supreme Court gives go-ahead

- For the last 26 years, sports gambling has been mostly limited to Nevada and the bright marquees of Las Vegas. Now, the Supreme Court is giving individual states the green light to enter the industry. 

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act on Monday. The move allows any state to legalize and regulate sports gambling, including Minnesota. 

“This is like Sunday liquor sales on cocaine,” Rep. Pat Garofalo said. 

Garofalo is pushing for sports gambling legalization and is drafting a bill for the Legislature to discuss to make gambling on sporting events in Minnesota a reality. 

“The public is really, super excited about this and I want it to happen right now, but it is just going to take some time for us to get it right,” Garofalo said.  

This Minnesota Legislative session ends next week and it is unlikely that anything will pass in the next few days, but Garofalo wants to start the conversation about a multi-billion dollar a year business in the U.S.

“The purpose of this is really consumer protection and having a safe, regulated environment in the state of Minnesota,” Garofolo said.   

Gambling expansion is a topic that can affect tribal casinos and racing tracks around Minnesota, but Garofalo says that it is important for all entities to be on the same page for stability in the Minnesota gambling industry.

“Nothing is going to happen unless there is stakeholder consensus,” Garofalo said.

Sports gambling is a popular idea, but not everyone is on board. Citizens Against Gambling Expansion is a group in Minnesota against the idea of allowing sports betting in Minnesota. 

“You can’t make a bad thing good,” said Jake Grassel, a representative of CAGE. 

Grassel has concerns about sports betting in Minnesota, from actual state income to how it will affect in-game issues. His major worry: how this can affect younger generations who could potentially place bets from their phones. 

“What the intent of this will be is to go to a mobile-friendly platform, so that you don’t have to go to a sports book or to a casino,” Grassel said. “You can do it from your living room.”

“All we’re hearing about is how this generation is saddled with debt. That they don’t see a way to the future, gambling is not that future,” Grassel added. 

Neither side expects this matter to be solved in a week’s time, but everyone is all in with the future of gaming up for grabs. 

“It is going to take longer than most Minnesotans want it to, but this is something we need to take action on,” Garofalo said.

“I think this is a place where we take a step back and maybe watch what other states are doing,” Grassel said. “We have a lot of people in St. Paul who are really going to learn and understand what it means to go down this road.”

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which has banned sports gambling since 1992, with a few exceptions. The law made Nevada the only state where a person could bet on the results of a single game. There have also been exceptions for Montana, Oregon and Delaware, which had already approved some form of sports betting before the 1992 law took effect.

“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito. “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”

The challenge to the federal law was brought to the Supreme Court by New Jersey, which argued Congress exceeded its authority when it passed the Sports Protection Act. More than a dozen states supported New Jersey, arguing the Constitution allows Congress to pass laws against betting on sports, but Congress can't require states to keep sports gambling bans in place.

The NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA urged the Supreme Court to uphold the federal law, arguing legalized sports betting would hurt the integrity of their games.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act doesn't cover animal races, like horse racing, which many states, including Minnesota, already allow.

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