Bigham argued that legalizing sports betting would help put consumer protections in place and drive economic activity.
“We have a lot of sporting events that are hosted here in Minnesota,” Bigham said. “The Super Bowl, the NFL draft maybe, the NAA tournaments, different things like that. This would enhance the consumer experience in that and drive economic activity.”
Garafalo echoed these points and went on to argue that legalizing sports betting would help regulate it.
“The important thing is to let Minnesotans do legally what they are already doing underground and that is to have a safe and regulated sports gambling market in Minnesota,” Garofalo said.
If passed, Bigham explained that betting on sports would start out in-person at casinos and race tracks and eventually move online.
“Essentially, what it will do, is it will allow onsite sports wagering at the casinos and race tracks. After a year, remote or mobile sports wagering would be allowed through the casinos only,” Bigham said.
According to Bigham, the state would tax in-person bets at 6% and online bets at 8%. Most of the money would go into the state’s general fund, but Bigham said a portion of it would go to support gambling addiction, which is one thing opponents of sports betting worry about.
“Any time you bring this up, there’s a need for maybe having the discussion about compulsive gambling and in the bill, not only can you put your name on a list that you’re not allowed to do this—that’s actually language in the bill. There’s also one half of one percent of the revenue that will go towards compulsive gambling programming,” Bigham said.
The regular legislative session ends just before Memorial Day. So, whether or not the bill will be passed remains up in the air until then. In the meantime, the lawmakers say they hope to hear legislators and constituents thoughts and feelings on the matter.
“I’m hoping that legislators get a chance to vote on it.” Garofalo said. “If they are in favor of it, vote for it. If they are against it, vote against it and that way, their constituents can share with them on the issue.”
If the bill passes, sports betting could go into effect before the end of the year.