Skip to main content

Monday, May 20 is the final day of Minnesota’s 2024 regular session. Lawmakers in the state have worked diligently to get a bill passed that would allow sports betting. The bill’s main sponsor has been Senator Zack Stephenson. His legal battle to try and legalize sports betting in Minnesota has lasted for four sessions. On Wednesday, the Minnesota House met for more than 11 hours. However, they did not dive into the topic of sports betting in the state. 

At 11:00 a.m. CST on Friday, the house session will meet again. Sources say that Zack Stephenson’s bill is a few votes short of passing. Friday will be his last chance to get this legislation pushed through. If not, his sports betting bill will have failed another time. In his bill known as HF 5274, Stephenson wants to historical horse racing (HHR) machines in Minnesota.

What hurdles has Zack Stephenson faced to legalize his sports betting bill?

First off, Minnesota’s state tribes and tracks are at odds. The Running Aces Casino, Hotel & Track announced they had filed a lawsuit against three Minnesota Tribal Casinos. Running Aces claims that these three casinos violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Also known as the RICO Act. In Zack Stephenson’s sports betting bill, state tribes would monopolize digital wagering. Platforms would be tethered to tribal casinos. 

Another major reason the bill is in the deadlock is the imbalance in the Senate. Nicole Mitchell was arrested in April for burglary. Since then, Senator Mitchell has been suspended from the state house. Leaving 33 Democrats and 33 Republicans to vote. Her not being available has seriously affected Zacj Stephenson being ability to pass his sports betting bill in the House and Senate without any hurdles. 

Additionally, Stephenson has had to broker a deal between the state’s charitable gaming group and the tribes. Around $40 million will be paid to charitable groups. They’ve agreed not to change how their pull-tab machines work. On top of that, the two horse tracks in Minnesota are making it incredibly hard. The tracks want more money but tribes will not sign a bill that gives tracks the chance to offer wagering. That’s why there’s been such a major hurdle trying to get sports betting legalized. We’ll have to wait and what happens after they vote again on the bill this Friday.