Minnesota online sports betting laws
Minnesota punches well above its weight in the sporting arena - but betting on sport is not legal yet. And it is likely to remain illegal unless the state legislators can come to an arrangement with the Native American tribes who run the state’s 19 casinos.
Administrative law and government relations attorney
Jennifer has a degree in Journalism from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated from George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C, in 2005. She's been living in Las Vegas helping clients in the casino and gaming industry, as well as other regulated businesses, across Nevada for over 15 years.
She has authored and co-authored numerous articles and books on US gaming law, including most recently, The Law of Regulated Gambling: A Practical Guide for Business Lawyers, American Bar Association (2020), and That (Expletive) Broad: Women Who Broke Barriers in the Casino and Gaming Industry (2020).
Is sports betting legal in Minnesota?
No. Minnesota sports betting has yet to be legalized and there are no immediate prospects for that to change.
Is online sports betting legal in Minnesota?
No. The tribes who run the state’s casinos oppose Minnesota online sports betting, which is a major stumbling block.
Ever since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was struck down by the US Supreme Court in 2018, there have been suggestions that Minnesota sports betting should be legalized.
That’s hardly surprising in a state with only five million residents but with a well-supported pro team at the top level of all big four sports. However, all attempts at legalization have come up against the implacable barrier of the 11 Native American tribes who run the 19 casinos in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
The tribes fear the prospect of Minnesota online betting, believing it will harm their business. John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, said in January 2021 that its members “remain opposed to any and all expansion of off-reservation gambling”.
Unless legislators can convince the tribes that Minnesota online sports betting will not eat into their profits, their stance represents a significant barrier to legalization.
Despite the long-standing obstacles to legal Minnesota sports betting, legislators launched a couple of bills in that direction in January 2021. Senator Karla Bigham, who was behind one of those bills, said her objective was “to keep people at the table and talking”.
Bigham’s bill attempts to appease the tribes by allowing solely retail betting on licensed premises – such as the casinos – for the first year. It would also insist on in-person registration for remote gambling. Bills to legalize and regulate sports betting, however, failed to gain any traction before the state legislature adjourned Sine Die in the spring of 2021. This means that the state won’t see sports betting introduced in 2021, and will have to wait for the 2022 legislature for potential action.
It will be very surprising if legislators do not try again to come to a compromise with the tribes. The state could be missing out on up to $40million a year in tax revenue.
Sen. Bigham is known to be a keen fan of wagering. As she said: “Sports wagering is flagrantly done publicly by myself and others but it is not legal. So why criminalize it?
“Let’s shine some light on it, let’s put some parameters around it and if the state makes a buck or two along the way, good for us.”
Despite their historic power, the tribes are sure to come under pressure from legislators and from sports fans in the state to allow Minnesota online betting in some form sooner rather than later.
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) exists in Minnesota in a legal gray area. It has never been banned, but at the same time, it has never been specifically legalized and regulated.
In the absence of sports betting in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the appetite for DFS is enormous, with a reported one million people in the state playing regularly.
That’s no surprise in a state that is home to the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. Football fantasy games are always a big hit with fans.
Baseball, hockey, and basketball too – Minnesota is where the Twins, Wild and Timberwolves play. With a busy college sports scene, it’s no surprise DFS is hugely popular in the state.
The Minnesota Vikings may have never won a Super Bowl, but they command massive support in the state. NFL is a hugely popular betting medium across the nation, and if Minnesota sports betting were ever legalized, the volume of gridiron wagers would be huge.
There may be no such thing as Minnesota sports betting officially, but it is estimated that $2.5 billion is wagered each year in the state with unlicensed operators.
Although most people who gamble do so in a responsible manner, for a small minority gambling can lead to addiction, which in turn causes family and financial worries.
Several agencies offer resources to encourage responsible gambling in Minnesota:
Get Gambling Help offers direct assistance through helplines and counselors and also puts professionals in touch with those who need their services.
The Minnesota Lottery takes its responsible gambling duties seriously and offers self-help guides and access to experts.
Minnesota Department of Human Services provides a wealth of information for people who may feel their gambling is getting out of hand.
Casinos such as the Treasure Island promote responsible gambling and provide links to agencies who can help those with issues.
The Northstar Alliance for Problem Gambling offers details on prevention, self-help and ways in which you can source assistance.
The National Council on Problem Gambling is a US-wide body that pulls together all the resources available in each state.
PASPA is declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, opening the door for states to legalize sports betting.
Bills are introduced in the Minnesota House and Senate allowing sports betting at casinos, but the tribes oppose them.
Bills introduced in odd-numbered years in Minnesota carry over to the next year; the lawmakers amend their bills to require in-person registration, but the tribes remain opposed.
New bills are floated, including the stipulation that betting for the first year must take place only in casinos and requiring in-person registration for future online wagering accounts. The tribes remain opposed and no bills see passage in 2021.
As things stand, there is no location where you can legally enjoy Minnesota sports betting. If the impasse between the state legislators and local tribes can be resolved, it is likely that the first place where sports betting will be allowed is at the casinos they operate.
An up-to-date list of those 19 current locations can be found here.
Not legally – Minnesota online sports betting has yet to be legalized. There are no official Minnesota betting sites. But billions of dollars are wagered each year by people in the state at offshore sportsbooks while the impasse over the legalization of Minnesota online betting remains.
Minnesota sports betting remains illegal thanks to the ongoing unwillingness of the tribes who control the state’s casinos to embrace wagering on sports. Until a compromise is reached between lawmakers and the tribes, the Minnesota sports betting is not available legally.
Minnesota online betting remains illegal for the foreseeable future. However, some offshore sportsbooks offer services to people within the US. While many will inevitably be tempted to enjoy sports betting in this way, there is risk attached; in the event of a dispute, you have no legal recourse.
FanDuel is one of the leading providers of Daily Fantasy Sports games to Americans. DFS exists within a gray area in Minnesota, neither legalized nor officially banned. As a result, FanDuel is one of the operators who enjoy a healthy audience here. However, FanDuel may not offer its sportsbook services in the state.