Minnesota Senator Roger Chamberlain Supports Sports Betting Bill

Minnesota Sports Betting Laws 2019

Minnesota and Michigan each will be considering sports betting laws in 2019.

Minnesota State Sen. Roger Chamberlain, chairman of the Senate Taxes Committee, expects to see a bipartisan sponsorship bill on the legislative docket in 2019. Sen. Chamberlain said the sportsbook legalization bill has a realistic change of passing by the end of the 2019 session.

Chamberlain told the Minnesota Post, “We have a rough draft. We’ll get it in and then we’ll make the tweaks as we go.”

Minnesota’s state legislature opens the 2019 session on January 8, so those who follow state gambling legislation should expect to hear of a Minnesota sports betting regulation bill on Jan. 8 or a little after.

The bill process likely would lead to debate in committees in March or April, a push to pass such a bill before the early sessions end in late-June, and a second flurry of activity late in 2019 if nothing happens before that time.

Several sets of committee hearings would allow proponents and opponents try to shape public opinion and legislative votes several times in the meantime.

Roger Chamberlain on Sports Betting Bill

Sen. Chamberlain expect to see several different committees work on the draft legislation, including the Senate Taxes Committee. The veteran state senator, who was first elected to office in 2010, said many lawmakers want to have their say on the issue of regulated gambling.

The representative of District 38 said, “It’s touching a lot of folks, and when you’ve got a lot of money involved then people get a little concerned. But I think there’s popular support for it.”

Chamberlain said Minnesota’s sports betting community should not expect the Senate bill to be at the top of the legislative calender. At key times through the year, he hopes to see the bill pushed through committee and primed for a floor vote.

He said, “Admittedly, this is not the top of the list for priorities..but it is certainly something that can get done.”

Pat Garofalo’s 2018 Sports Betting Bill

State Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) circulated a sports betting bill last year that would have applied a 1% tax on turnover (the size of the bet itself), not the sportsbook’s hold (the casino’s winnings). Other lawmakers would prefer to tax the hold, since it targets the sportsbook’s revenues and not all gaming activity.

Rep. Garafalo claims that legal and regulated sports betting in Minnesota might be worth $2 billion a year. The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans gamble roughly $150 billion a year on sports bets — with about 97% of that amount wagered at unlicensed offshore bookmakers or with local bookies.

Sports Betting Is about “Opinions”

Sen. Chamberlain, a 55-year old former U.S. Navy and U.S. Army National Guard member, said the legislative process might involve several interpretations of Minnesota sports betting. He said the issue is complicated, yet rewarding.

The same could be said of sports betting itself. Chamberlain said of bookmaker bets, “Look, it’s fun. It’s about opinions. People have opinions and they’re investing in their opinions. That’s what sports betting is all about.”

US Sports Betting Industry

For the past 25 years, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) banned sports betting in 46 US states, including Minnesota. The major US sports leagues convinced the US Congress to ban sports betting, claiming it undermined the integrity of sports. The NFL, MLB, and NBA wanted to ban sportsbooks in all 50 states, but Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and Delaware successfully defended their existing sports betting industries.

The fact PASPA grandfathered betting for those four states proved its wrongdoing. From 2012 to 2018, New Jersey mounted a challenge to PASPA in two separate attempts to legalize land-based sportsbooks in the Garden State. That culminated in a 6-3 ruling in the US Supreme Court on May 14, 2018, which effectively repealed PASPA.

Minnesota Sports Betting Bill?

Any state which wants now has the right to legalize and regulate single-game sports betting inside its boundaries. Delaware changed from sports lotteries to single-game sports bets in June, while New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania all legalized sports betting since then.

Minnesota joins a list of other US states considering legal sportsbooks. New York, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Virginia, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Louisiana all have considered the legalization process on one level or another. Due to the nature of the legislative process, certain of those states will fail to pass such bills in the coming years.

Minnesota might be one of those, but Roger Chamberlain suggests that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are receptive and open-minded to such a move. Any bill which touches on activities associated with traditional “vices” are fraught with legislative peril. A lot of innuendo and misinformation is spread in the public realm, but if hearings held by the Senate Taxes Committee and other Minnesota legislative committees go well, we could have legal Minnesota sports betting this time next year.