2024 Minnesota legislative session

Sports betting debate heads to Minnesota House

People watch coverage of the NCAA college basketball tournament.
The Minnesota House is set to debate sports betting legislation as the session draws to a close.
John Locher | AP file

A sports betting bill, once seen as dead, is due for debate in the Minnesota House Wednesday. For months, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has been working to strike a compromise between varying interests, especially horse tracks and tribal nations.

Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo of Farmington, the bill’s Senate sponsor, has been trying to legalize sports betting in Minnesota for years.

“We're going for the Hail Mary play in the endzone. The bipartisan group of legislators who oppose us are trying to knock it down and that's just where we're at,” Garofalo said.

He says ultimately it’s a fight over who gets to make money off sports gambling in the state. Lawmakers are coming down to the wire with the 2024 legislative session, which must adjourn by Monday.

The sports betting industry posted a record $11 billion in revenue in 2023. Minnesota is in the minority as 38 states have legalized some type of sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that struck down the federal ban on state authorization of sports betting. All of Minnesota’s neighbors have some form of it.