A brief letter by a significant player in the world of legal gambling has changed the politics around the problem of sports betting in Minnesota. At least for now.
Last week, Charles Vig, the seat of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, composed Gov. Tim Walz and the four legislative leaders to state the state’s gaming tribes weren’t interested in adding sports betting to their offerings.
But he didn’t stop there. From the letter, Vig said the tribes will oppose passage of laws to include Minnesota to the growing list of countries with legalized sports gambling. “The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association continues to oppose the expansion of off-reservation gaming, including the legalization of sports betting,” he wrote.
The seven casino-owning tribes in Minnesota combine a group of unusual allies in sports gambling betting statements this season, including groups like Citizens Against Gambling Expansion, which concerns about the ill effects of gaming, such as addiction.
The tribes do not have a veto over non-tribal gambling, but their voices are powerful, particularly among DFLers such as Gov. Tim Walz and the new House majority. Under federal law, states must bargain in good faith to permit tribes to offer the same kinds of gambling that is legal off-reservation.
Until a U.S. Supreme Court decision last spring cleared the way for states to offer sports gambling similar to what’s legal in Nevada casino gambling books, that legislation was not an issue in Minnesota. It is. By a 6-3 majority, the court ruled in Murphy v. NCAA that Congress exceeded its authority by preventing states from legalizing and regulating sports gambling. The case had been brought by New Jersey, which desired to give an increase to its struggling Atlantic City casinos, and had attempted a set of legal moves to end the federal ban against sports betting in all states except Nevada.
From the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. wrote that Congress has the ability to pass legislation to govern sports gambling itself. But if it decides not to, then every state is free to do so, and many have done just that.
A draft bill circulated at the Minnesota capitol in the end of this 2018 session however no formal invoice was ever filed and no hearings were held. Supporters of the law, led by Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Blaine, have been coordinating a bill for this session,.
Chamberlain, who’s chair of the Senate Taxes Committee, was amazed and a little disappointed in the tribes’ place, which he discovered about through Twitter. “We met with them and while they’re not necessarily in alignment they are clearly concerned about losing their economic base, the economic engine,” Chamberlain said. “We know that. We have reassured them that we’re not interested in harming that interest or jeopardizing tribal compacts.”
State Sen. Roger Chamberlain
Courtesy of Senate Media Services
State Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Blaine, said cellular betting must be part of this state law because that is where a lot of the betting action is.
But Chamberlain said he is optimistic that it remains subject to discussions, and he said he thinks it could be a win for the nation, the tribes and for non-tribal betting. “There’s no reason to shut the rest of the country and the rest of the possible consumers and operators and players from taking part in a totally safe and lawful firm,” he said. “We expect to get into a location where everyone can agree and I believe we can.”
While it appears clear that tribes would be able to give sports betting in their casinos if it is made valid for non-tribal gambling, legal advisors notice that sports betting sets up some hard choices for tribes. The primary issue is that betting on sports — about the outcomes of games, on scores and other outcomes — isn’t especially lucrative for casinos. The other is that under national law, tribes can only offer gambling over the boundaries of reservations. This makes the most-promising facet of sport gambling — distant gambling online or via mobile devices — may be off limits to these, but to not non-tribal sports books.
Chamberlain said cellular gambling must be a part of this state law since that is where a lot of the betting action is. Part of the rationale for legalizing it state by state would be to catch some of the bets now made lawfully.
“In this market and culture you need mobile access to become rewarding,” Chamberlain said.
Online betting would likewise make gambling available in rural and remote areas of the country that might not have casinos or industrial sports books nearby. 1 possible solution for the tribes is to declare the gaming takes place not where a player’s telephone is, but where the computer server which processes the wager is situated. That’s far from solved law, nevertheless.
“We can find our way round these issues and do it,” Chamberlain said.
Vig is chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota, which owns the Mystic Lake and Little Seven casinos, didn’t shut the door on eventual tribal interest in sport gambling. He did, however, ask the state to move gradually.
“While there’s a desire by some to consider this issue during the present session, it seems that the general public interest would be served first by careful study of sports gambling’s consequences within this nation, evaluation of other nations’ experiences where sports betting has been legalized, and comprehensive consultation with the large number of stakeholders interested in it,” Vig wrote.
A spokesman for the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association said pioneers weren’t readily available for interviews and that Vig’s letter are their sole statement on the problem.
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
The chair of the House committee that would consider any sports betting statements said the tribal institution’s letter does not change her position on the issue. Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, stated that there are still no patrons within her caucus pushing a bill. Ever before the tribes made their position known, Halverson said she planned to be careful and deliberate on the topic.
“I’ve yet to see language or possess anything introduced,” she explained.
But she anticipates laws will surface, and she wishes to possess at least an info hearing so lawmakers can understand the consequences and hear from both backers and opponents. “I believe we are all in learning mode,” she said. “If something is that new, that is the legislative model typically. Things take time and we need to be deliberative about such major changes to Minnesota law.”
In a press conference Wednesday,” Walz stated his fundamental position on the issue is to legalize and regulate. But he explained that should come just after a process of hearings and discussion. “I trust adults to make mature decisions,” he said of gambling. “I also realize that addiction comes in many forms, if that’s alcohol, tobacco or cannabis or sports gambling and these can have societal consequences which are fairly catastrophic.
“When the Legislature chooses to take that up, we are certainly interested in working with them to get it right,” Walz said.
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