A brief letter by a major player in the sphere of legal gambling has changed the politics around the issue 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 state the nation’s gambling tribes were not interested in adding sports gambling to their offerings.
But he didn’t stop there. From the letter, Vig said the tribes will probably oppose passing of legislation to include Minnesota to the growing list of states with legalized sports betting. “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 season, including groups such as Citizens Against Gambling Expansion, which concerns about the ill effects of gaming, including addiction.
The tribes don’t possess a veto over non-tribal gaming, but their voices are influential, especially among DFLers such as Gov. Tim Walz and the new House majority. Under federal law, states must deal in good faith to permit tribes to offer you the very same kinds of gambling that is legal off-reservation.
Until a U.S. Supreme Court decision last spring cleared the way for countries to provide sports gambling like what’s lawful in Nevada casino sports books, that law wasn’t a problem in Minnesota. It is. With 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 wanted to give an increase to its struggling Atlantic City casinos, and had attempted a set of legal moves to end the federal ban against sports betting in most states except Nevada.
From the vast majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. wrote that Congress has the authority to pass legislation to regulate sports gambling itself. But when it decides not to, every state is free to do so, and many have already done just that.
A draft bill circulated at 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 law, led by Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Blaine, are preparing a bill for this particular session,.
Chamberlain, who is chair of the Senate Taxes Committee, was amazed and a bit disappointed at the tribes’ place, which he found out about through Twitter. “We met with them and while they are not always in alignment they are clearly worried about losing their economic foundation, the economic engine,” Chamberlain said. “We understand that. We have reassured them that we’re not interested in damaging 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 the state law because that is where much of the gambling action is.
But Chamberlain said he is optimistic it remains subject to discussions, and he said he thinks it might be a win for the state, the tribes and for non-tribal betting. “There’s no reason to shut out the rest of the country and the rest of the potential consumers and players and operators from taking part in a totally safe and lawful firm,” he said. “We hope to get into a place where everybody can agree and I believe we could.”
While it seems clear that tribes would have the ability to give sports gambling in their own casinos if it is made valid for non-tribal gaming, legal advisors note that sports betting sets up some hard choices for tribes. The primary issue is that gambling on sports — about the outcomes of games, on scores and other results — is not especially lucrative for casinos. Another is that under federal law, tribes can only offer betting over the boundaries of reservations. That makes the most-promising facet of sport gambling — distant betting online or via mobile devices — may be off limits to them, but not to non-tribal sports books.
Chamberlain said cellular betting must be a part of this state law since that’s where a lot of the betting action is. Part of the rationale for legalizing it state by state is to catch some of the stakes made illegally.
“In this market and culture you need mobile access to become rewarding,” Chamberlain said.
Online betting would likewise make gaming available in rural and remote areas of the country that might not have casinos or even industrial 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 which processes the wager is situated. That is far from solved law, however.
“We can find our way around these issues and get it done,” 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 eventual tribal interest in sport betting. He did, however, ask the state to move gradually.
“While there is a desire by some to look at this matter during the current session, it appears that the general public interest will be best served by careful study of sports gambling’s implications in this nation, evaluation 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 available for interviews and that Vig’s letter are their only statement on the problem.
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
State Rep. Laurie Halverson
The chair of the House committee that could consider any sports betting statements said the tribal institution’s letter doesn’t change her position on the issue. Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, stated there are still no patrons in her caucus pushing a bill. Ever before the tribes made their position known, Halverson stated she intended to be careful and deliberate on the subject.
“I have yet to watch language or possess whatever introduced,” she explained.
But she anticipates legislation will surface, and she wishes to possess at least an info hearing so lawmakers can comprehend the impacts and hear from both backers and competitions. “I think we’re all in learning mode,” she explained. “If something is that new, that’s the legislative model typically. Things take time and we need to be deliberative about such significant changes to Minnesota law.”
In a press conference Wednesday,” Walz said his fundamental position on the issue is to legalize and regulate. But he explained that should come only after a process of hearings and debate. “I expect adults to make mature decisions,” he said of gaming. “I also recognize that addiction comes in many forms, whether that’s alcohol, tobacco or cannabis or sports gambling and those can have social consequences which are pretty catastrophic.
“When the Legislature chooses to take that up, we are certainly interested in working with them to get it right,” Walz said.
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