Minnesota Lawmaker Says Tribes Want To Limit Sports Betting Mobile Apps

Written By Matthew Kredell on March 2, 2022
Minnesota Mobile Platforms Are Limited But Sports Betting Is Legalized

The number of online sports wagering apps figures to be the biggest point of contention as Minnesota lawmakers pursue sports betting legislation in the coming months.

Sen. Roger Chamberlain told PlayUSA that Minnesota Indian tribes are pushing for just two to three mobile platforms. Although there are 11 gaming tribes in Minnesota, Chamberlain believes they want to collectively split revenue over a small number of apps.

The tribes also want exclusivity over mobile wagering, according to Chamberlain. However many apps the tribe agree on, Chamberlain wants two more for Minnesota horse racetracks.

“We can’t just operate on two mobile licenses and give them just to the tribes,” Chamberlain said. “From my conversation with sportsbooks and those representing books, that doesn’t work. The odds probably won’t be good, and I don’t think they’ll end up making the money for it to be viable. More licenses get people interested in the market. If not, they’ll continue betting in Iowa and Wisconsin.”

Minnesota tribes come around on sports betting

In previous years, Minnesota tribes objected to any expansion of gaming through sports betting. In November, it became apparent that tribes were warming to sports betting.

Andy Platto, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, told a local Fox news station:

“As gaming experts, tribes stand ready to share this expertise with lawmakers considering the future of sports betting in Minnesota.”

That’s a far cry from previous years when tribes spoke against any form of legalized sports betting, even limited to in-person at tribal casinos.

Chamberlain confirmed that tribal representatives had taken a different tactic with lawmakers recently.

“I’ve been told they made an internal deal and want to get something done this year,” Chamberlain said. “So we all want sports wagering and now just have to come up with some agreement. I believe we can get to an agreement and bring it across the finish line.”

How many mobile betting apps for the Minnesota market

Chamberlain’s initial proposal two years ago offered a mobile license to each tribe and racetrack, a total of 13 licenses.

“That was my original idea and I think that’s still a good idea,” Chamberlain said. “Tribes don’t want 11 licenses. They want only a couple and to share the revenue. That’s their position from what I understand.”

Chamberlain said that, since some of the smaller tribes don’t want licenses, his plan is to offer a total of four to six mobile licenses, with the tracks getting two.

He said the tracks need MN mobile sports betting to remain viable.

“I have talked with reps from Running Aces and I accept their explanation that, without mobile, they won’t be able to continue a brick and mortar,” Chamberlain said. “Because most business is on mobile.”

Chamberlain wants to work with the tribes, but not at the expense of Minnesotans.

“We have to make the market competitive and open while still protecting the interests of the tribes,” Chamberlain said. “No one wants to destroy their business model.”

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Expectations for 2022 legalization effort

Chamberlain said he would file new language for his bill Senate File 574, late this week or early next week. It will start in the Senate State Government Committee.

Around the same time, Rep. Zack Stephenson will introduce a sports wagering bill in the House. Stephenson’s bill is expected to represent the tribal desire for sports betting legislation.

Each bill requires a positive committee vote by March 25, though lawmakers can revive a dead bill if desired.

Chamberlain expects the House and Senate to each pass their own sports betting bills, then hash out the differences.

“We’ll have two opposing pieces, and we’ll find out what we can live with and what we can’t,” Chamberlain said. “Hopefully we can find a compromise in conference committee.”

Photo by Photo.ua / Shutterstock.com
Matthew Kredell Avatar
Written by
Matthew Kredell

Matthew has covered efforts to legalize online gambling since 2007, interviewing more than 200 state lawmakers across the nation and four US Congressmen. A USC journalism alum, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News and has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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