Minnesota bill would authorize tribes to offer sports betting

At a press conference held on Wednesday, Minnesota Representative Pat Garofalo introduced the Safe and Regulated Sports Gambling Act of 2019.

Garofalo intends to formally file the bill on Thursday once the state lawmakers reconvene for the year.

If successful, the bill will grant the tribal groups that operate casinos in the state the exclusive right to offer sports betting on any professional or NCAA sporting event.

The bill would also authorize on-site mobile sports betting, meaning punters will only be able to wager on mobile devices if they are on casino property.

Garofalo’s legislation would also create the Minnesota Sports Wagering Commission, a five-person commission responsible for overseeing sports betting in the state.

The bill is unique in the tax structure it proposes. Instead of placing a tax on revenue, wagers will be subject to an excise tax of 0.5%. This is effectively a 0.5% tax on betting handle and would work out to roughly 10% of revenue.

In a press statement, Garofalo’s office dubbed it “the lowest tax rate structure in the nation.”

Furthermore, the minimum betting age will be 18 years old, there is no mention of an integrity fee and no set application or licensing fee.

Minnesota is not the first state with legislation that would grant tribes exclusivity over sports betting. Last month, Arizona lawmakers introduced SB 1158, a bill that would only allow tribes in the state to offer sports betting.

There are 11 federally recognized tribes in Minnesota that operate a total of 19 gambling venues across the state, making the tribes primary stakeholders in the Minnesota gambling market.

The tribes have yet to voice their opinion on the bill. However, in January the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association sent a letter to state lawmakers that opposed the legalization of sports betting.

However, not all tribes in the US oppose the idea of offering sports betting.

Last year the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians became the first tribe outside of Nevada to offer sports betting. The Santa Ana tribe in New Mexico launched sports betting operations shortly after.

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