Minnesota Mulling Sports-Betting Bill With Unique Provisions For Responsible Gambling

March 13, 2023
A bill to legalize sports betting making its way through the Minnesota legislature would establish several of the strictest advertising provisions and problem gambling requirements in the U.S., including a required waiting-period between placing wagers.


A bill to legalize sports-betting making its way through the Minnesota legislature would establish several of the strictest advertising provisions and problem gambling requirements in the U.S., including a required waiting-period between placing wagers.

House File 2000 also includes additional funding for problem gambling treatment and prevention services, but the state’s leading advocate believes more can be done to educate the public about addiction.

The bill, co-sponsored by Representative Zach Stephenson of the Democratic-Farmer Labor Party, would give exclusive rights to Minnesota gaming tribes to operate retail wagering at their brick-and-mortar casinos, as well as state-wide mobile betting in partnership with commercial operators.

Stephenson’s proposal would establish a 10 percent tax rate, grant each tribe one mobile betting skin, and would not tax deductions for bonuses and promotions. Minnesota has 11 federally-recognized tribes that operate 21 casinos.

After passing through a second committee last week, the Minnesota House State and Federal Government Finance and Policy Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for Thursday (March 16).

An amendment by Stephenson, the bill's main author, to require mobile sports-betting operators to share customer data with the University of Minnesota for the purpose of conducting research to ensure the integrity of sports betting was approved by the House Public Safety, Finance and Policy Committee last Thursday (March 9).

The committee then passed HF 2000 with only one member voting against the bill.

The university would also be required to assist the commissioner of the state's Department of Human Services in improving state-funded services related to responsible gambling and problem gambling.

Stephenson’s bill sets aside 40 percent of sports-betting tax revenue for problem gambling, of which 20 percent would go to the state's Department of Human Services and 20 percent to the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling (MNAPG).

But the funding and research provisions are far from the only responsible gambling provisions in the bill, which includes several restrictions that would be unique in the U.S. if the legislation becomes law as initially draft.

Among other things, HF 2000 proposes that any money deposited in a mobile sports-betting account could not be used to place a wager until at least three hours have passed from the time of the deposit.

The bill would prohibit mobile sports-betting advertisements in taxis or other for-hire vehicles, such as those operated by Uber or Lyft. Advertisements would also be prohibited at bus stops, train stations, airports or any other similar location.

Under the bill, the regulations overseeing sports betting would also have to include rules limiting the frequency of advertisements, along with “appropriate standards for limiting the total number of wagers an individual can place within a specified period of time.”

There would also be a required waiting period between placing wagers, to reduce the addictive impact of mobile wagering applications.

Stephenson’s bill would further require rules that prohibit advertisements in any print publication or on radio, television, or any other medium if the targeted audience of that medium is reasonably expected to be individuals who are under age 21.

“We need to be honest,” Stephenson told the House public committee committee on Thursday. “Most people can gamble without issue [but] for a small subset it is a real, real problem. We would devote more resources than ever before to confronting this problem.”

Republican Representative Paul Novotny voted against HF 2000, warning his colleagues that sports betting is a “vice that we are encouraging that four or five years from now we are going to have people in this committee saying my life was ruined on a much larger scale.”

“I understand that it is already going on but now we are giving the state’s blessing for it, and it is going to explode,” Novotny said. “I know … illegal gambling is bad. This will be just as bad but on a larger scale.”

The Sports Betting Alliance that represents operators including FanDuel and DraftKings estimates that 1.2m Minnesota residents illegally gamble $2.5bn annually with bookmakers and offshore sites.

Susan Sheridan Tucker, executive director of the MNAPG, said she appreciated the funding in Stephenson’s bill but urged him to amend the bill to include a public health campaign to educate Minnesota residents about problem gambling and gambling addiction.

“So many do not understand this issue and the severity of its consequences,” Sheridan Tucker told VIXIO GamblingCompliance via email.

“These campaigns would be available on all marketing platforms, including digital, print, social media, billboards and wrapping public transport.”

She noted the state took a similar approach to educating the public about tobacco products.

“Every Minnesotan should have a basic understanding of problem gambling, gambling disorder and ways in which harms can be minimized,” Sheridan Tucker said. “We're not anti-gambling but advocate safer play.”

She also urged lawmakers to create a state-wide self-exclusion program and require prevention education in Minnesota middle schools and high schools. Currently there is no mention of gambling within the prevention programs for substance uses, tobacco, vaping, drugs and alcohol.

Stephenson’s bill as written would provide for 60 hours of family counseling for gambling addiction, up from 12 per year.

“This is a great improvement, and we also need to create specific counseling designed for younger children,” Sheridan Tucker said.

“With the accessibility of gambling on phones and within unregulated video games we will likely see some increased need as well as high school students who are already indicating issues with gambling. It's inappropriate for them to be part of adult groups.”

An earlier version of Stephenson's bill was approved by the Minnesota House last year before stalling in the state's Senate.

An identical bill to HF 2000 was also introduced last month in the Senate.

Senate 1949 was similarly approved on March 9 by the Senate's Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, after senators adopted an amendment that includes removing language requiring a three-hour wait between deposit and placing a wager.

Both the House and Senate bill are being supported by the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, as well as an alliance of the state's major professional sports teams.

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