A brief letter from a major player in the world of legal gaming has changed the politics around the problem of sports gambling 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 say the nation’s gaming tribes were not interested in adding sports betting to their offerings.
But he didn’t stop there. From the letter, Vig said the tribes will probably oppose passage of laws to add Minnesota to the growing list of countries with legalized sports betting. “The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association continues to oppose the growth of off-reservation gaming, including the legalization of sport betting,” he wrote.
The seven casino-owning tribes in Minnesota join a group of allies in sports gambling betting statements this year, including groups such as Citizens Against Gambling Expansion, which worries about the ill effects of gambling, such as addiction.
The tribes don’t have a veto over non-tribal gambling, but their voices are influential, particularly among DFLers such as Gov. Tim Walz and the new House majority. Under federal law, states need to bargain in good faith to permit tribes to offer you the same kinds of gambling that is legal off-reservation.
Until a U.S. Supreme Court decision last spring cleared the way for countries to offer sports betting similar to what is lawful in Nevada casino gambling books, that law was not an issue in Minnesota. Now it is. With a 6-3 majority, the court ruled in Murphy v. NCAA that Congress exceeded its power by preventing states from legalizing and regulating sports betting. The case had been brought by New Jersey, which wanted to give an increase to its fighting Atlantic City casinos, and had tried a series of legal moves to end the federal ban against sports gambling in all states except Nevada.
In the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. wrote that Congress has the ability to pass laws to govern sports betting itself. However, if it decides not to, then every state is free to do so, and several have already done exactly that.
A draft bill circulated in the Minnesota capitol in the end of the 2018 session however no formal bill was ever filed and no hearings were held. Supporters of the legislation, headed by Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Blaine, have been preparing a bill for this session,.
Chamberlain, who’s chair of the Senate Taxes Committee, was amazed and a bit disappointed in the tribes’ place, which he found out about via Twitter. “We met together and while they are not necessarily in alignment they’re clearly worried about losing their economic foundation, the economic engine,” Chamberlain said. “We know that. We have reassured them that we’re not interested in damaging that interest or jeopardizing tribal compacts.”
State Sen. Roger Chamberlain
Courtesy of Senate Media Services
State Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Blaine, said cellular gambling must be part of the state law since that is where a lot of the gambling 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 nation, the tribes and for non-tribal gambling. “There’s no reason to shut out the remainder of the state and the remainder of the potential customers and operators and players from taking part in a totally safe and legal business,” he explained. “We expect to get to a location where everyone can agree and I think we could.”
While it seems evident that tribes would be able to offer sports gambling in their own casinos if it’s made valid for non-tribal gambling, legal advisors note that sports gambling sets up some tough choices such as tribes. The first issue is that gambling on sports — on the outcomes of matches, on scores and other results — is not especially rewarding for casinos. The other is that under national law, tribes may simply offer betting within the boundaries of bookings. This makes the most-promising facet of sports betting — remote gambling online or through mobile devices — might be off limits to these, but not to non-tribal sports novels.
Chamberlain said cellular gambling must be part of this state law because that’s where a lot of the gambling action is. Part of the rationale for legalizing it state by state would be to catch some of the stakes now made lawfully.
“In this economy and culture you require mobile access to be rewarding,” Chamberlain said.
Online betting would also make gaming available in remote and rural parts of the state which may not have casinos or industrial sports books near. 1 possible solution for those tribes is to declare that the gambling takes place not where a participant’s telephone is, but where the computer server which processes the wager is located. That’s far from resolved 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 possesses the Mystic Lake and Little Seven casinos, did not close the door on ultimate tribal interest in sports gambling. He did, however, ask the country to move gradually.
“While there is a desire by some to consider this matter during the present session, it appears that the general public interest would be served first by careful analysis of sports betting’s consequences in this state, evaluation of other states’ experiences where sports gambling 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 leaders weren’t available for interviews and Vig’s letter are their sole statement on the issue.
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
The seat of the home committee that could consider any sports betting bills said the tribal association’s letter doesn’t alter 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 cautious and deliberate on the topic.
“I’ve yet to see language or have whatever introduced,” she said.
But she anticipates laws will surface, and that she wants to have at least an info hearing so lawmakers can comprehend the impacts and listen from both backers and competitions. “I think we are all in learning mode,” she explained. “When something is this brand new, that is the legislative model generally. Things take time and we have to be deliberative about such major modifications to Minnesota law.”
In a press conference Wednesday, Walz said his fundamental position on the issue will be to legalize and regulate. But he explained that should come just after a process of hearings and debate. “I expect adults to make mature decisions,” he said of gambling. “I also recognize that dependence comes in many forms, if that be alcohol, tobacco or cannabis or sports betting and those can have societal consequences that are fairly devastating.
“When the Legislature chooses to take up that, we’re certainly interested in working with them to get it right,” Walz said.