Senator Bigham introduces sports wagering legislation

Posted 2/3/21

By Bruce Karnick [email protected] Senator Karla Bigham and Representative Pat Garofalo introduced a bill, SF410, to the state to legalize sports wagering in MN. Prior to the publication of the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Senator Bigham introduces sports wagering legislation


By Bruce Karnick

[email protected]

Senator Karla Bigham and Representative Pat Garofalo introduced a bill, SF410, to the state to legalize sports wagering in MN. Prior to the publication of the bill, Senator Bigham and Representative Garofalo held a zoom press conference.

Senator Bigham started things off, “It’s time for Minnesota to join the other 27 states to legalize sports wagering. It’s already done flagrantly and it’s time to shine some light on it, put some guard rails around it, protections around it, and, quite honestly, we need to legalize it. If the state makes a few bucks while at it, good for us. But you don’t legalize sports wagering, or marijuana, or fireworks for that matter to solve a budget problem. You do it in part to have protections in place for a good consumer experience.”

The pair expressed some concerns over how Minnesotans conduct sports wagering now, not because we are betting on sports, but because there is nothing to protect us from being scammed. Many folks bet using offshore services and accounts, something that could cause losses if a person wins. The most important aspect is providing consumer protections.

Representative Garofalo pointed out that Law Enforcement has better things to do than break up sports wagering, something that has gone on for an exceptionally long time.

A popular radio morning show likes to joke about how Minnesota can never be a leader in something like this, we always must be middle of the pack or later. Both Senator Bigham and Representative Garofalo seemed to understand this thought process well, even joking about ‘can you imagine if Wisconsin beats us to legalized sports wagering?’ The authors of the bill want to do this the right way, so they understand there will be many changes to the initial proposal as written. Along with the consumer protections, they want to be more forward thinking, allowing mobile apps to wager with was the biggest one. Currently, there are businesses working on peer to peer, social networking type applications that help people place bets between each other, all within the confines of the law.

“It’s important that people understand that, that train is starting to leave the station,” Representative Garofalo said, “and an absence of action by the state legislature is going to result in that peer to peer, social networking model in growing in acceptance.”

Senator Bigham later sent out a press release on the legislation: “Thousands of Minnesotans currently engage in legal sports betting across the border in Iowa, and many others make bets with unregulated and potentially risky bookmakers. Now is the time for the state to step up and put the legal guardrails in place that allow responsible adults to do this safely and legally,” said Senator Bigham. “As more than two dozen states have already introduced and passed laws establishing legal sports betting, Minnesotans should not be left out in the cold in something they want to do safely and responsibly.”

The Sports Wagering Commission would be composed of nine members: The Commissioner of Public Safety, the Chair of the Racing Commission, five members appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate, and two members appointed by the Governor following the advice of the Indian Affairs Council. The bill allows onsite wagering at both casinos and racetracks, and after one year it allows remote or mobile sports wagering through casinos, as long as people have a registered account with the casino. Sports books at professional stadiums would not be allowed.

Sports betting would have two tax rates: 6% for onsite betting, and 8% for mobile betting. Approximately 0.5% of tax revenue will be appropriated for “compulsive gambling assistance,” and the rest of the tax revenue will flow into the general account. Currently, 25 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico have allowed some form of sports betting, while several other states are currently considering legislation to establish it.

The bottom line for Minnesota? We already have a variety of lottery games available at nearly every convenience store in the state, pull tabs both paper and electronically at bars, and casinos, why not allow sports wagering?

Sadly, knowing how skittish this state is when it comes to any kind of change, it’s a safe bet to make that this won’t happen anytime soon, especially without your support. Thankfully for Hastings, Cottage Grove and our surrounding communities, our Senator already gets it. You can help her by emailing your support to both her and other senators in the state, urging them to support this. Then email the Representatives the same thing, Ask them to support it, and maybe they will surprise us!