New sports betting bill puts Minnesota tribes in control | national politics

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) — The lead sponsor of a House bill legalizing sports betting in Minnesota said Monday he’s confident the state’s Native American tribes will drop their longstanding opposition and make it law because it gives them control would.

Coon Rapids Democratic Rep. Zack Stephenson said he’s been meeting with leaders of all 11 Ojibwe and Dakota bands in Minnesota over the past few months to develop a “Minnesota-specific model” and that he’s not pushing forward now would, if he wasn’t comfortable, that they’ll end up supporting it. The bill gets its first hearing in committee on Tuesday.

“If this law is passed, Minnesotans will be able to visit sports betting lounges at casinos across Minnesota and they will also be able to bet on sports from anywhere in the state from their own cell phones,” Stephenson said at a news conference.

Opposition from tribal governments, which depend on casinos for much of their revenue, has blocked past efforts to legalize sports betting in Minnesota. But the bill, drafted by Stephenson and Farmington Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo, would keep most of the profits in tribal hands.

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Garofalo said the approach will take Minnesota “from a black market for unregulated activity to a regulated market with consumer transparency, consumer protection, and organized crime and money laundering defunding.”

Stephenson said the tribes would keep all winnings from bets at their casinos and keep about 5% of total amounts wagered on mobile devices. They could partner with commercial mobile betting platforms like FanDuel, DraftKings and MGM.

The state would receive only 10% of the tribes’ net profits from online betting. Stephenson estimated it could be around $20 million a year, with 40% going to programs to combat problem gambling; 40% for youth sports, particularly in communities with high levels of juvenile delinquency; and 20% for regulating the emerging industry to protect consumers and ensure betting does not affect what is happening on the pitch.

A statement from the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, which represents 10 tribal nations, was notable for not directly opposing the law, instead refusing approval until details are nailed down.

The group said it and its members “support state efforts to authorize sports betting in both tribal gambling and online/mobile platforms and believe tribes are best positioned to bring this new market to the state’s consumers It added that they will “monitor state legislation and look forward to working with other stakeholders.”

Stephenson said the bill alone would need approval from at least six committees in the House of Representatives. It also has to pass the Senate, where it received a muted reaction from the chamber’s leading proponent for legalizing sports betting, GOP Sen. Roger Chamberlain of Lino Lakes.

“I welcome Democrats to this table, and we will work together to write legislation that can achieve this,” Chamberlain said in a statement. “However, the offer in its current form will not offer the consumer a good product. We need to expand the options for consumers to have the best possible experience.”

Unlike under Chamberlain’s bill, the state’s two racetracks would not get a share of the action.

Stephenson said he consulted with the state’s professional sports teams and colleges, but said his bill would not allow them to run their own sports book businesses. He said the state’s tribes are the experts on how to properly regulate gambling and it makes sense to start with them.

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