Minnesota Sports Betting

Minnesota loves its sports about as much as a walleye on the end of a line. And you betcha that’s a whole bunch.

There’s a good chance Minnesotans would love betting on all those pro and college teams, too.

Trouble is, sports betting is not legal in Minnesota. That said, lawmakers in the state have been exploring the possibility since the US Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that states other than Nevada could start accepting wagers on sports.

Until that wonderful day when Minnesotans can finally legally bet on the Twins, Vikings, Wild, Timberwolves and Gophers, they’ll have to sit around the old ice fishing hole lamenting what could be.

This page reviews how the sports betting discussion has gone thus far in Minnesota and the prospects for sports betting going forward.

Is sports betting legal in Minnesota?

No. There is no legal sports betting in Minnesota.

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When will Minnesota regulate sports betting?

Minnesota is home to 11 different federally recognized Native American tribes that presently operate 19 different casinos in the state. There are a number of smaller gambling establishments run by the tribes, too. The tribes’ centrality to gambling in Minnesota necessitates their involvement in any future decisions regarding sports betting in the state, adding an important component to those negotiations.

Legislators have proposed bills that would legalize sports betting, including both retail and online sports wagering, while limiting it to tribal casinos. However, the tribes have thus far resisted while maintaining that introducing sports betting could have a negative impact on gambling in the state.

Rep. Pat Garofalo and Sen. Karla Bigham introduced a bill in 2021 that would initially limit sports betting to casino sportsbooks, but it received very little support among their peers, not even being granted a committee hearing.

The numerous and powerful tribal entities in Minnesota have not in favor of the type of state-wide mobile sports betting market that has become dominant and preferred by bettors nationally. The 2021 bill would have allowed for mobile betting in the second year of implementation.

There has been no state-wide referendum on sports betting, but given the fact that it’s roaring in neighboring Iowa, it stands to reason Minnesotans would be onboard. Garofalo and others plan to introduce legislation toward the same end in 2022. It appears that tribal gaming interests in the state have started to come around on the idea of expanding their business in this way.

In the meantime, all those potential dollars that Minnesota could tax from legal sports bets are flowing into Des Moines or the pockets of illegal bookies or offshore sites.

Can you play daily fantasy sports contests in Minnesota?

It is neither legal or illegal. State regulators tried unsuccessfully to regulate the daily fantasy sports industry in Minnesota in 2017, so all the national brands currently operate there in a gray area. 

Who will regulate Minnesota sports betting?

The Minnesota Gambling Board currently oversees non-tribal gambling in the state, which includes lottery, bingo, and various charitable and bar games and racinos at two horse tracks. Recently proposed bills suggest the appointing of a new Minnesota Sports Wagering Commission for that purpose.

How old do I have to be to bet on sports in Minnesota?

The minimum age to gamble in Minnesota’s tribal casinos is 18 years old. Sports betting legislation that has been proposed similarly suggest 18 as a minimum age for sports betting. Nationally, 21 is the norm.

Where would I be able to make legal sports bets in Minnesota?

If it happens, probably only at sportsbooks at first.

All things considered, online sports betting seems even less likely for Minnesota than retail sports betting. That’s because the state’s 11 tribes strongly oppose allowing any sort of sports wagering to occur away from their casinos.

Proposed bills have tried to include online sports betting. Some have proposed allowing online wagering and restricting it by geolocation to the casino properties. But the tribes have not supported any bills thus far. That said, legislators continue to include online sports betting in their proposed bills. It could come to pass that if the tribes and state ever do reopen negotiations to consider sports betting, an online component could be part of the discussion.

Which online sportsbooks will launch in Minnesota?

While sports betting of any kind is illegal in Minnesota, an online market would likely draw the same cast of national players as in other states, particularly neighboring Iowa.

DraftKings: well-known national DFS and sportsbook player is live in multiple states, including Iowa.

FanDuel: the national market leader is almost everywhere rival DraftKings goes.

BetMGM: Like DraftKings and FanDuel, offers weighty promotions to lure first-time customers.

PointsBet: known for unusual betting markets and is growing American presence.

Caesars: would likely be eager for new markets as it takes over William Hill brand.

Do I have to be in Minnesota to bet online?

You would. No matter where you choose to bet on sports in the US – Minnesota or otherwise – you will be forced to verify your location within the resident state. So, in order to place a wager on an Iowa sports betting app, you have to prove to the site that you are convincingly inside state lines. However, there are plenty of different programs and hacks out there, and you may be wondering if you can just fudge things a bit.

The short answer is that no, you can’t. Geolocation verification technology is quite adept at weeding out those who are not inside the state’s borders. This software uses your device’s GPS and location services to place you accurately at your physical location. If there is even a hint that you may not be in the right place, the site will automatically deny you the ability to place a wager.

Sportsbooks (and other online gambling sites) take geolocation quite seriously because they have much on the line with it. Failure to geofence their sites accurately can result in both fines and sanctions on their licenses. So, don’t expect them to let this stuff slide. Make sure that your feet, body, and device are inside Iowa before you try to bet.

What sports can I bet on in Minnesota?

Minnesota is home to a number of popular professional sports franchises, including:

All six of these teams are located in the Twin Cities. Most play their home games in Minneapolis, aside from the Minnesota Wild and Minnesota United FC who play in St. Paul.

There are five NCAA Division I college teams as well in the state, the most famous of which is the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Betting on horse racing in Minnesota

Betting on horse races has been legal in Minnesota since the early 1980s. Canterbury Park in Shakopee is the state’s largest and most famous race track, hosting several thoroughbred races each year. Meanwhile, Running Aces Casino & Racetrack in Columbus features harness racing. As described above, both facilities also have card rooms where visitors can play poker as well as table card games like blackjack.

Off-track betting is not legal in Minnesota. However, advance deposit wagering is and both Canterbury Park and Running Aces simulcast races in their racebooks where patrons can wager on them year-round. Interestingly, Minnesota law prohibits wagering on races run in-state from anywhere except at the race track.

Minnesotans can additionally bet on horse racing on two mobile horse racing sites, BetAmerica and TVG.

Betting on Minnesota sports teams

If sports betting comes to Minnesota, expect sportsbooks to begin offering all of the most popular types of sports wagers, including:

  • Moneyline — a bet on a side to win a contest outright, regardless of the spread.
  • Spread — a bet that takes into account the spread; e.g., a bet on the “Vikings +3.5” wins if the Vikings either win or lose by no more than 3.5 points.
  • Totals — a bet on whether or not total amount of points scored in a contest goes over or under a certain number; a.k.a. an “over/under” bet.
  • Parlays — a bet that combines multiple bets into one wager, with each “leg” of the bet needing to win in order for the parlay to win.
  • Round Robin — a type of parlay bet in which the bettor can still win a partial payout if some (not all) of the “legs” win.
  • Teasers — yet another kind of parlay in which the bettor “teases” or altars the spread or total for one of the “legs” of the bet.
  • Props — a bet on a player or team that doesn’t involve the outcome of the contest, such as on how many points a player scores.
  • Futures — a bet on an event that will not be determined until a future date; e.g., a preseason bet on which team will win the Super Bowl.
  • In-Play Betting — also called “live betting,” a bet on events in a game currently in progress.

History of sports betting in Minnesota

In 2018, Minnesota Rep. Pat Garofalo first began circulating a draft sports betting bill, getting feedback from both lawmakers and the tribes. In the state’s other chamber, Sen. Roger Chamberlain introduced a sports betting bill, though it failed to gain any traction.

The following February, Garofalo then formally introduced his Safe and Regulated Sports Gambling Act of 2019. The bill limited sports betting to brick-and-mortar casinos, allowing mobile wagering but only on site. Interestingly, the bill proposed the state take a 0.5% tax on the handle, rather than a tax on revenue (as every other state does).

Sen. Chamberlain likewise refiled his Sports Wagering Regulation and Taxation bill in the Senate. His bill differed from Garofalo’s in a few ways, including opening up mobile wagering to the entire state, allowing sports betting at the state’s race tracks, and taxing revenue (not handle) by 6.75% (a relatively low amount, compared to other states).

Alas, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association didn’t care for either bill, and their opposition stymied the bills’ progress.

In 2020, Chamberlain filed a new version of his bill with a few changes, including requiring in-person registration at the casinos for mobile accounts. But the tribes opposed the legislation again, and the bills died without advancing up the legislative ladder.

Of course, there still remains a significant impasse between what lawmakers are proposing and what the tribes will allow.

The tribes steadfastly refuse to go along with any sports betting outside of their properties, which would include any mobile wagering or sportsbooks at racetracks or other non-tribal establishments. The nature of the current tribal-state compacts in Minnesota enables the tribes to continue with such objections. Furthermore, the compacts are effective in perpetuity, meaning they cannot be renegotiated unless both sides agree to reopen them.

The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association has made its position clear in the past:

“Minnesota tribes remain concerned that a legal sports betting market could have negative consequences to the state’s delicate gaming industry.”

The state and the tribes will obviously have to reach some kind of compromise if sports betting is ever to come to MN.

Industry analysts estimate Minnesota would produce a $40 million legal industry annually.

Martin Harris Avatar
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Martin Harris

Martin Harris is a writer and teacher who has reported on poker, online gambling, and sports betting since the mid-2000s. Once a full-time academic (Ph.D., English), he currently teaches part-time in the American Studies program at UNC Charlotte. In 2019, his book Poker & Pop Culture was published by D&B Books.

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