Minnesota considers tribal sports betting proposal

15 February 2019

Lawmakers in Minnesota are to consider a new bill that could lead to the legalisation of sports betting at tribal casinos in the US state.

Introduced by Representative Pat Garofalo, the new Safe and Regulated Sports Gambling Act of 2019 sets out plans to create the Minnesota Sports Wagering Commission, which would regulate the state’s sports betting market.

The bill would permit in-person sports wagering at casinos runs by recognised tribes in Minnesota, while consumers would also be able to place bets via mobile and other electronic devices on-site. The bill requires any mobile app to block access to consumers if they are more than 20ft away from a tribal property.

Consumers would be able to place bets on all sports and events authorised by the Commission, including US collegiate sports, but wagering on virtual events would not be permitted.

The new Commission would be able to award two types of licences: a sports pool licence and a mobile and electronic sports pool licence, with casinos permitted to apply for both types of licences. The bill does not set out the cost for either licence.

The bill would also enable casinos to enter into agreements with third parties to manage or operate an on-site sports pool, a mobile and electronic sports pool, or both.

Operators would face something of a unique tax structure. An excise tax of 0.5% would be imposed on each wager placed in the state, and if the bill were to come into law, it would be the first sports betting tax of its kind in the US.

In a statement issued to the press, Garofalo’s office said it would be the “lowest tax rate structure in the nation”.

However, Garofalo will face some level of opposition in pushing the bill through, with Minnesota Indian Gaming Association having last month written to state Governor Tim Walz about the issue.

In the letter, the tribal organisation set out its opposition to the expansion of off-reservation gambling, including the legalisation of sports betting in Minnesota.

Image: Tony Webster