A brief letter by a significant player in the world of legal gaming has altered the politics around the issue of sports gambling in Minnesota. At least for today.
Last week, Charles Vig, the chair of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, composed Gov. Tim Walz and the four legislative leaders to say the nation’s gambling tribes were not interested in adding sports betting to their offerings.
But he did not stop there. From the letter, Vig said the tribes will probably oppose passage of legislation to add Minnesota to the growing list of states with legalized sports gambling. “The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association continues to oppose the growth of off-reservation gambling, including the legalization of sport gambling,” he wrote.
The seven casino-owning tribes in Minnesota combine a group of allies in opposing sports betting statements this year, including groups such as Citizens Against Gambling Expansion, which worries about the ill effects of gambling, including addiction.
The tribes don’t have a veto over non-tribal gaming, but their voices are influential, especially among DFLers like Gov. Tim Walz and the new House majority. Under federal law, states need to bargain in good faith to permit tribes to offer the same kinds of gambling that’s legal off-reservation.
Until a U.S. Supreme Court decision last spring cleared the way for countries to offer sports betting like what’s legal in Nevada casino sports books, that legislation was not a problem 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 was brought by New Jersey, which wanted to give an increase to its struggling Atlantic City casinos, and had tried a series of legal moves to end the federal ban against sports gambling in all states except Nevada.
From the vast majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. wrote that Congress has the authority to pass legislation to govern sports betting itself. However, when it decides not to, each state is free to do so, and several have already done exactly that.
A draft bill circulated at the Minnesota capitol at the end of this 2018 session however no formal invoice was filed and no hearings were held. Supporters of the legislation, headed by Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Blaine, have been preparing a bill for this particular session,.
Chamberlain, who’s chair of the Senate Taxes Committee, was surprised and a bit disappointed in the tribes’ position, which he discovered about via Twitter. “We met with them and while they’re not necessarily in alignment they’re obviously worried about losing their economic base, the economic engine,” Chamberlain said. “We understand that. We’ve reassured them that we are not interested in harming that fascination or jeopardizing tribal compacts.”
State Sen. Roger Chamberlain
Courtesy of Senate Media Services
State Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Blaine, stated mobile gambling must be part of the state law because that’s where a lot of the betting action is.
But Chamberlain said he is optimistic that it remains subject to negotiations, and he said he believes it could be a triumph for the state, the tribes and to get non-tribal betting. “There is no reason to shut the remainder of the state and the rest of the potential customers and players and operators from getting involved in a totally safe and lawful firm,” he explained. “We hope to get into a location where everyone can agree and I believe we can.”
While it appears evident that tribes would be able to offer sports gambling in their casinos if it’s made legal for non-tribal gambling, legal advisors notice that sports betting sets up some tough choices such as tribes. The first issue is that gambling on sports — about the outcomes of games, on scores and other results — isn’t especially lucrative for casinos. The other is that under national law, tribes can simply offer gambling over the boundaries of bookings. That makes the most-promising aspect of sport gambling — distant betting online or through mobile devices — may be off limits to these, but to not non-tribal sports books.
Chamberlain said cellular betting must be 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 is to catch a few of the stakes now made illegally.
“In this economy and culture you require mobile access to be profitable,” Chamberlain said.
Online betting would likewise make gaming available in rural and remote areas of the state which may not have casinos or commercial sports books near. 1 possible solution for the tribes would be to announce that the gambling takes place not where a participant’s telephone is, but where the computer server that processes the wager is situated. That’s far from resolved law, however.
“We can find our way round those problems and do it,” Chamberlain said.
Vig is chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota, which possesses the Mystic Lake and Little Seven casinos, didn’t close the door on ultimate tribal interest in sport betting. He did, however, ask the country to move slowly.
“While there is a desire by some to look at this issue during the current session, it appears that the general public interest will be best served by careful analysis of sports gambling’s consequences within this state, examination of other states’ experiences where sports gambling has been legalized, and thorough consultation with the large number of stakeholders interested in it,” Vig wrote.
A spokesman for the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association said leaders weren’t readily available for interviews and Vig’s letter would be their sole statement on the issue.
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
The chair of the home committee that could consider any sports betting bills said the tribal association’s letter doesn’t change her position on the issue. Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, said that there are still no sponsors in her caucus pushing a statement. Before the tribes left their position known, Halverson stated she intended to be cautious and deliberate on the subject.
“I have yet to see language or possess anything introduced,” she said.
But she expects laws will surface, and that she wants to possess at least an info hearing so lawmakers will understand the impacts and hear out of both backers and competitions. “I believe we’re all in learning mode,” she said. “If something is this brand new, that’s the legislative model typically. Things take time and we have to be deliberative about these significant changes to Minnesota law.”
At a press conference Wednesday,” Walz stated his basic position on the problem will be to legalize and regulate. But he said that should come just after a procedure for hearings and discussion. “I expect adults to make adult decisions,” he explained of gambling. “I also realize that addiction comes in many forms, if that be alcohol, tobacco or cannabis or sports gambling and these can have social effects which are pretty catastrophic.
“If the Legislature chooses to take up that, we’re certainly interested in working with them to get it right,” Walz said.
Read more: sportscoverage.net