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Sports betting bill advances to next round in House

Rep. Zack Stephenson presents HF2000, a bill to permit lawful sports betting, to the House Taxes Committee April 30. It is the bill’s sixth committee stop. (Photo by Michele Jokinen)
Rep. Zack Stephenson presents HF2000, a bill to permit lawful sports betting, to the House Taxes Committee April 30. It is the bill’s sixth committee stop. (Photo by Michele Jokinen)

Could you have some money in the game soon? The question of legalized sports betting has been discussed in Minnesota since a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down a federal prohibition on it and allowed states to authorize sports wagering.

All of Minnesota’s neighbors have it in some form. You can place bets on sporting events at specific locations in North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, and you can engage in mobile sports betting in Iowa. Should Minnesota follow suit? And, if so, in what form?

Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids) has a proposal for what legalized sports betting could look like in Minnesota.

HF2000 would authorize and regulate wagering on certain athletic and electronic sports events, and appropriate money for it. It would also establish related crimes and create grants administered by the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission and fund a study on gambling by young adults.

House Taxes Committee approves legalized sports betting bill, HF2000 4/30/24

On Tuesday, the bill was approved, as amended, by the House Taxes Committee on a 12-9 party-line vote and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The committee was only asked to examine the bill’s tax provisions, as other aspects have been vetted elsewhere. After originating in the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee, the bill was previously approved by the judiciary, public safety, state and local government, and human services committees.

“Minnesotans want sports betting to be legal,” Stephenson said. “That’s very clear from the polling. There’s a broad coalition of support for this bill.”

The committee rejected three amendments along party lines.

One from Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) would have deleted most of the bill’s provisions, but kept those related to reducing taxes on charitable gaming. Rep. Kristin Robbins (R-Maple Grove) sponsored one that would have reduced the bill’s gross receipts tax rate on lawful gambling. And Rep. Jon Koznick (R-Lakeville) proposed an amendment that would have eliminated most of the bill’s horse racing provisions.

[MORE: View the bill’s revenue estimate]

Both Davids and Robbins said their amendments were inspired by their belief that the bill will not become law this year, and thus not its provisions providing tax relief to veterans’ organizations and other nonprofits that rely upon charitable gaming.

“I think the sports bill is going to die and they will again get nothing,” Robbins said.

“When I heard, during the conversation, that the bill’s not going anywhere, I looked over at the veterans and watched their demeanor change as this hearing went on,” said Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL-Aurora). “And I feel for you. Because, basically, you were told that this has no chance. Is this a perfect bill? Probably not, but it was moving in the right direction. And I’m going to keep fighting for it.”

“One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you don’t provide false hope,” Davids replied. “And I think that’s what we’ve done here.”

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