Minnesota Indian Gaming Association Insists Tribe-Controlled Sports Betting

Written By J.R. Duren on January 9, 2023
Native tribes in Minnesota believe best fit to run Minnesota sports betting

Sports betting in Minnesota isn’t legal yet, but, when it is, the state’s tribes believe they’ll do the best job of running it.

That’s the intention of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA), which recently spoke to the Minnesota Reformer. MIGA Executive Director Andy Platto told the publication that “tribes are best positioned to provide this new offering to the state’s consumers.”

He went on to say that tribes will know how to create a plan that offers upside to Minnesota residents “while protecting the Indian gaming operations that tribal and rural communities rely on for jobs and economic health.”

Why MIGA’s push for tribal control over Minnesota sports betting matters

When a state considers legalizing sports betting, there are a few things it has to consider:

  • Which state agency will run sports betting?
  • How many sports betting licenses will there be, and how much will they cost?
  • Will sports betting licenses be limited to federally recognized tribes, or can commercial casinos and operators get them, too?

That last question comes with a host of considerations. First, few states are willing to cede control of licenses to tribes. Most states don’t limit sports betting to tribes. The two that recently did have yet to launch a permanent sports betting market.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida signed an updated compact with the state that gave them exclusivity for sports betting. However, just two weeks after it launched in late 2021, a federal judge shut down Florida sports betting.

Maine legalized sports betting last year, giving the state’s tribes exclusive access to online sports betting licenses. The state is still at least a year away from launching sports betting, as state gaming boss Milton Champion wants to ensure no details are missed, and the public’s opinion is considered before going live.

Minnesota is home to 11 federally recognized tribes. Having exclusive access to sports betting would provide a significant economic boost.

And pushing for tribal control of sports betting licenses intersects with MIGA’s mission to help tribes “begin to reverse extreme poverty” and “provide for tribal members’ health and education.”

Tribes getting help from sports betting operators

The Minnesota Reformer pointed out that several high-profile lobbyists have registered in the state to represent gambling companies. Those lobbyists have no doubt helped the tribe in its efforts to legalize sports betting in the state.

Operators like FanDuel, DraftKings, and Caesars stand to make a considerable amount of money in the state. The most recent sports betting bill introduced to lawmakers included a 10% tax on online bets, which is a relatively low figure.

And low tax rates mean more revenue for the tribes and operators.

It will likely be up to the tribes to figure out how much of a cut they want from Minnesota sports betting revenue. In Maine, tribes are allowed, by law, to take up to half of an operator’s online sports betting revenue.

No such provision exists in Minnesota’s most recent sports betting bill.

Another thing working in the tribes’ favor? Minnesotans want legal sports betting. In a survey released by the Star Tribune last year, 48% of respondents said Minnesota should legalize gambling on sports.

Only 33% said they didn’t want legal sports betting.

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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