In push for legal sports betting, lawmakers hear concerns over reservation lands

Minnesota lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday, hoping the state will fall in line with others when it comes to legal sports betting.

Rep. Pat Garofalo evokes the spirit of competition to push his bill though the state legislature.

“We do not want to lose to Iowa on this issue,” he said, noting that an Iowa casino is already building a sports book.

“It’s important we not provide another hospitality advantage to our neighbors to the south and neighboring states, that Minnesota’s hospitality and tribal gaming interests are able to compete on a level and fair playing field.”

Now, they face another hurdle: the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association sent a letter to the governor and legislative leaders saying they’ll strongly fight any sports gambling bill if it allows gambling off reservation lands.

“They’ve expressed concern about off-property gambling and what we’re trying to do is take all of their concerns to heart,” said Rep. Zerwas, who also sponsored the bill, along with Rep. Garofalo.

The bill specifically states “a license may only be issued to a federally recognized Indian tribe or group of tribes that is located in this state.”

Any online betting apps must include an active feature that, “at a minimum, causes the device to cease functioning when the device is located 20 feet or more from the property of a federally recognized Indian tribe or group of tribes.”

“Now is the time to introduce a bill to get all legislators involved and to get the public engaged in this dialogue,” Rep. Garofalo said.

Eight states now allow sports gambling, and many others are on the path to do so.

“God help us if on a Vikings-Packers Sunday game, Minnesotans have to go into Wisconsin to bet on the game...that would be crazy,” Rep. Zerwas said.