A recent poll suggests nearly two-thirds of Minnesotans want regulated sports wagering in their state.
The survey conducted by KSTP/SurveyUSA queried 556 registered voters in Minnesota, discovering that 64% support current sports wagering legislation before various committees in the state’s House of Representatives. Just 17% of those polled are against the bill while 19% say they’re undecided.
HF 778, sponsored by Rep. Zack Stephenson, enjoys bipartisan support among voters as 67% of Democrats polled say they’re in favor of it while 65% of registered Republicans indicate they’d like to see Minnesota approve regulated sports betting.
Minnesota politicians have tried for several years to advance sports wagering legislation with limited success. Today, each of the four states Minnesota shares borders with — Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin — are live and legal with sports betting, according to American Gaming Association (AGA). Much to the chagrin of Minnesota politicians, Iowa is home to one of the fastest-growing sports betting markets in the US.
Inside the Poll
Stephenson’s legislation, which already gain approval of four committees, would permit sports wagering for the state’s 11 Native American tribes. There are 21 tribal casinos in the state.
Under the terms of the bill, the state would gain no financial benefit from sports bets placed at tribal casinos and those operators would keep 5% of the handle generated on mobile devices. The bill permits tribal gaming entities to partner with commercial sportsbook operators to offer mobile and online betting, but Minnesota’s racetracks are excluded.
That approach could prove ineffective because just 7% of the respondents in the KSTP/SurveyUSA favor limiting sports betting to tribal casinos. Conversely, 57% want those gaming venues and racetracks to be able to offer it. Fifty-seven percent are also in favor of mobile wagering while 25% oppose it.
For operators, the name of the game is entering as many markets as possible to drive top line growth. Along those lines, Minnesota is a relatively attractive area. It’s home to 5.64 million residents and teams from all four of the major domestic sports leagues.
While there’s clear demand and bipartisan support for bringing sports betting to Minnesota, excluding a specific group of stakeholders — in this case, racetracks — could be an invitation for a legal fight.
Precedent on that front is already established. For example, tribal operators control sports wagering in Washington State, which led to a still pending federal lawsuit by card room operator Maverick gaming. As a result of the current structure of sports wagering there, Washington derives little financial benefit from the endeavor.
Likewise, California tribes are hoping voters will approve a sports betting ballot proposition that also excludes card rooms, indicating a legal spat could be on tap in that state if voters sign off on the tribes’ plan.
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