A brief letter by a major player in the world of legal gambling has changed 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 state the state’s gaming tribes weren’t interested in adding sports betting to their offerings.
But he did not stop there. In the letter, Vig said the tribes will 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 expansion of off-reservation gaming, including the legalization of sports gambling,” he wrote.
The seven casino-owning tribes in Minnesota join a group of allies in opposing sports betting statements this year, including groups like Citizens Against Gambling Expansion, which worries about the ill effects of gaming, such as addiction.
The tribes do not have a veto over non-tribal gaming, but their voices are influential, particularly among DFLers like Gov. Tim Walz and the new House majority. Under federal law, states must deal in good faith to allow tribes to offer you 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 gambling like what’s lawful in Nevada casino sports 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 betting. The case was brought by New Jersey, which desired to give an increase to its struggling Atlantic City casinos, and had tried a set of legal moves to end the federal ban against sports betting in most states except Nevada.
In the vast majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. wrote that Congress has the authority to pass legislation to govern sports gambling itself. But when it decides not to, then every nation is free to do so, and several have done exactly that.
A draft bill circulated at the Minnesota capitol in the conclusion of this 2018 session however no formal invoice was filed and no hearings were held. Supporters of the law, headed by Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Blaine, are coordinating a bill for this particular session,.
Chamberlain, who’s chair of the Senate Taxes Committee, was amazed and a little disappointed at the tribes’ place, which he discovered about via Twitter. “We met together and while they’re not necessarily in alignment they’re obviously worried about losing their economic foundation, the economic engine,” Chamberlain said. “We understand that. We have 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 betting must be part of this state law because that’s where much of the gambling action is.
But Chamberlain said he’s optimistic that it remains subject to negotiations, and he said he thinks it could be a triumph for the state, the tribes and for non-tribal betting. “There’s no reason to shut the remainder of the country and the rest of the potential customers and players and operators from getting involved in a perfectly safe and lawful business,” he said. “We hope to get into a location where everybody can agree and I think we can.”
While it appears clear that tribes would have the ability to give sports gambling in their own casinos if it’s made legal for non-tribal gaming, legal advisors notice that sports gambling sets up some tough choices such as tribes. The primary issue is that betting on sports — about the results of games, on scores and other outcomes — isn’t especially rewarding for casinos. Another is that under national law, tribes may simply offer betting over the boundaries of bookings. This makes the most-promising facet of sport betting — distant gambling online or via mobile devices — may be off limits to them, but to not non-tribal sports books.
Chamberlain said mobile betting must be a part of this state law because that is where much of the betting action is. Part of the rationale for legalizing it state by state is to catch some of the bets now made lawfully.
“In this economy and culture you require mobile access to be rewarding,” Chamberlain said.
Online betting would likewise make gaming available in remote and rural parts of the state which may not have casinos or commercial sports books nearby. 1 possible solution for the tribes would be to announce the gambling takes place not where a participant’s telephone is, but in which the computer server that processes the wager is situated. That’s far from solved law, nevertheless.
“We can find our way round these problems and get it done,” Chamberlain said.
Vig is chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota, which owns the Mystic Lake and Little Seven casinos, did not shut the door on eventual tribal interest in sports betting. He did, however, ask the state to move slowly.
“While there’s a desire by some to look at this matter during the current session, it seems that the public interest would be best served by careful analysis of sports betting’s implications within this nation, examination of other nations’ 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 pioneers weren’t readily available for interviews and Vig’s letter would be their sole statement on the problem.
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
The seat of the House committee that would consider any sports gambling statements said the tribal association’s letter doesn’t alter her position on the problem. Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, stated there are still no patrons within her caucus pushing a statement. Before the tribes left their position known, Halverson said she intended to be careful and deliberate on the topic.
“I’ve yet to see language or have anything introduced,” she said.
But she anticipates legislation will surface, and she wishes to have at least an info hearing so lawmakers can understand the consequences and listen from both backers and competitions. “I think we are all in learning mode,” she said. “When something is this brand new, that is the legislative model generally. Things take time and we need to be deliberative about such significant changes to Minnesota law.”
At a press conference Wednesday,” Walz said his basic position on the problem is to legalize and regulate. But he said that should come just after a procedure for hearings and debate. “I trust adults to make mature decisions,” he explained of gambling. “I also realize that addiction comes in many forms, whether that’s alcohol, tobacco or cannabis or sports gambling and these can have social consequences which are fairly devastating.
“If the Legislature chooses to accept that up, we are definitely interested in working together to make it right,” Walz said.
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