Sports bettors looking to place wagers on a legal footing in Minnesota could be in for a long wait thanks to a cautious approach being taken to the issue by the legislature and what appears to be outright stonewalling by the state’s tribal gaming interests.

Responding to calls for legalization from State Senator Roger Chamberlain , Republican Ryan Winkler simply stated: “I don’t think anyone wants to rush into anything.” The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, meanwhile, has already voiced its opposition some time ago.

From a legislature perspective, the main stumbling block appears to be a relentless agenda that includes the drawing up of a $50bn two-year budget. On top of that, new Governor Tim Walz clearly has more pressing matters to address including the introduction of legalized marijuana and the state’s gun laws.

Where the real opposition lies, though, is within Minnesota’s tribal gaming stakeholders who are understandably looking to protect their gaming compacts. To that effect they have been unambiguous in their refusal to countenance legalized sports betting in their own casinos as well as at off-reserve gambling locations.  

Under the terms of Minnesota’s gaming compacts, tribal gaming is limited to slots, blackjack, bingo and other Class II games. The compacts are perpetual; in other words they cannot be renegotiated unless both sides agree to do so. Charles Vig, Chairman of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, has reinforced the point via a letter to Governor Walz seeking more research and underlining their resistance to any growth in off-reservation gambling. That stance extends to the legalization of sports wagering.

Chamberlain, who is pushing to introduce a bill in the near future, has argued that sports betting is already happening in Minnesota and said that he is open to working with tribal leaders. “We certainly want them to get involved, protect their interests and provide a new business marketing opportunity for them” he told MINNPOST. Whether the tribes will welcome his additional calls for mobile gaming and increased competition from new market entrants is another matter altogether.