ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - There was a new push on Wednesday by Minnesota lawmakers to bring sportsbetting to Minnesota.
A group of five Republican lawmakers held a news conference to push their bill which they claim would be a win for the state and a win for tribes.
Senator Roger Chamberlain, who has previously proposed measures to legalize sportsbetting, says lawmakers a currently reworking a bill that would allow for brick-and-mortar sportsbetting for tribal casinos along with racetracks Canterbury Park and horse Running Aces. Chamberlain says the legislation would bring mobile and online options as well.
"The proposal here is good for the tribes, the tracks, but most importantly it is good for the consumers," said Chamberlain.
With a new law set to take effect in Wisconsin, currently all four states that surround Minnesota will have some form of legalized sportsbetting. For people living in the Twin Cities, they will soon be just an hour and a half drive away from placing a bet at a casino in Iowa or Wisconsin.
At the same time, offshore sportsbetting sites have seen an increase in popularity over recent years, which allows Minnesotans a quasi-legal way to place bets online. Senator Karin Housley seemed to acknowledge loopholes on Wednesday.
"As a matter of fact, there's a couple of sergeants on our floor, on the Senate floor -- I'm not allowed to say their names -- they are also sportsbetting on their phones," Senator Housley said during the press conference.
"We are saying, we’ve got something here to protect your interests," said Senator Karla Bigham. "Give you full rights. State gets a little. Consumer gets a lot. State gets a little and the two tracks get something as well."
In a message to FOX 9, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association re-iterated a statement they made last fall, showing some support for sportsbetting: "The tribal governments making up MIGA have been examining the various ways sports betting has been implemented across the country and its impacts on tribal communities. As gaming experts, tribes stand ready to share this expertise with lawmakers considering the future of sports betting in Minnesota."
How sportsbetting has been rolled out in other Midwest states
Last year, Wisconsin allowed tribal casinos to start sports betting on their grounds. First, the tribes had to make amendments to previous gaming rules and agreements. To do that, they had to get approval from the federal government.
On Wednesday, St. Croix Casinos, which has a location in Turtle Lake, about an hour and a half outside of the Twin Cities, modified their original application, or amendment to get sports betting approval. That means, as long as the application isn’t rejected, sports gambling in St. Croix could start in 45 days or less.
"It’s going to add a lot of excitement," Jeff Merrill, Director of Sports Booking St. Croix Casino. "It will be interesting to see how this unfolds."
In Wisconsin, sports betting will only be allowed on tribal property. As of now, Wisconsin legislation does not allow mobile or online sports betting.
"The illegal market has been huge for years and now this gives you a place to do this in a safe environment one that’s regulated and that makes it a lot of fun there’s been a lot of interest from a lot of different areas," Merrill said.
According to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, last year people spent more than $2 billion on sports wagering in Iowa. Sports gambling is off to a strong start in 2022. In January alone people wagered more than $303 million on sports betting, 91 percent of the money coming from wagers placed online.
"It’s just never been easier to place a bet," managing editor and analyst for PlayIA.com Russ Mitchell said.
In 2021, Iowa made changes to its sports betting rules, allowing people to place bets on mobile devices, tablets, and computers without ever having to step foot inside a casino. Previously, people wanting to place bets had to visit a casino in-person to register, before placing online bets.
"For the first 18 months, I think they wanted to start slowly in Iowa and take a cautious approach before they really opened the door wide open for sports betting," Mitchell said.