Minnesota Makes Final Push to Legalize Sports Betting in 2024

USA Legal Betting


  • Bill banning historical horse racing games would also legalize sports betting
  • New bill would create 11 sports betting operating licenses
  • The 2024 legislative session ends May 20

Just when we thought the push to legalize sports betting in Minnesota this year was over, but a last-minute effort has given proponents new hope.

Minnesota Representative Zach Stephenson has taken the language from his sports betting bill HF 2000 and added it to bill HF 5274, which would ban historical horse racing (HHR) games. HHR games had been a major sticking point in Minnesota’s effort to legalize sports betting, with many calling for them to be banned.

In addition to the addressing the issue of HHR games, Stephenson’s decision to combine the bills also circumvents a major roadblock in the Minnesota Senate. The Senate Finance Committee has repeatedly stood in the way of legal sports betting, refusing to consider the bill without unprecedented restrictions being added.

With the latest bill now being rolled into an existing one, it will no longer be required to move through the finance committee, removing one of the biggest obstacles.

While the updated bill is the best chance Minnesota has had to legalize sports betting, timing will be an issue. The state legislature is in its final week of the 2024 session, meaning the bill will need to be passed in a matter of days to make the cutoff.

Details of Updated Sports Betting Bill

If passed, Minnesota would have a robust sports betting market. A total of 11 operating licenses would be available to federally recognized tribes in the states. Those operators would be taxed at 20%.

All bettors would be required to be at least 21 years old. While there would be a large bet catalog, eSports and horse betting would not be allowed via sportsbooks. Horse betting would still be legal in Minnesota but would not be offered at sports betting sites.

The following tribes would have access to the state’s operating licenses:

·      Bois Forte Band of Chippewa

·      Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

·      Grand Portage Band of Chippewa

·      Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

·      Lower Sioux Indian Community

·      Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

·      Prairie Island Indian Community

·      Red Lake Nation

·      Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

·      Upper Sioux Community

·      White Earth Nation

HHR Games to Cause Pushback

Two of the state’s largest horse racing track, Canterbury Park and Running Aces, will be pushing hard to defeat this updated sports betting bill. That is due to the banning of HHR games, which have caused controversy on their own.

HHR games are currently offered by the two tracks, allowing bettors to wager on random races from the past. While the tracks have said these games are covered by the state’s current law allowing for horse betting, but many legislatures believe it crosses the threshold into the gaming style found on online casinos.

Sports betting efforts in the past have been closely tied to HHR games. The state’s top tracks argue any expansion of gambling in the state should guarantee the protection of these games. That has made the road to legalization more difficult, leading to the current bill being considered.

Both Canterbury Park and Running Aces will vehemently oppose the bill being considered this week. They continue to argue that the loss of HHR and inability to offer sportsbooks of their own will be a major decrease in revenue. While prohibiting sportsbooks from offering horse betting will protect that revenue stream, it won’t cover the loss from banning HHR games.