MN lawmaker pushing to legalize sports betting

Samantha Boring
Created: March 26, 2021 07:42 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS) - March Madness is underway and many people have placed bets on their favorite teams. 

There are currently 25 states with legal sports wagering, Iowa is one, but Minnesota has not legalized sports betting. DFL Senator Karla Bigham who represents Cottage Grove said it is time for Minnesotans to be able to legally bet on sports. She introduced a bill in the Senate to make that happen back in January, but it still has not been heard in the Senate or the House. She hopes to change that before the session ends in May. Sen. Bigham said the market is there in Minnesota and legalizing this could help stop illegal wagering. 

"Let's provide a good consumer experience for people, it's happening in the black market, it's already happening on social media networks, people are already figuring out how to do it. And that is not always the safest way for people to do these transactions," said Sen. Bigham. 

She said Minnesota has plenty of professional teams to bet on and the state hosts a lot of tournaments. Sen. Bigham is also worried that without the state having this legalized, it could miss out on more sports tournaments in the future. According to the American Gaming Association, the industry expects 47 million Americans to wager on March Madness. 

"March Madness is a big deal when it comes to betting and brackets and there is definitely going to be a spike in the states that have it legalized because of the March Madness," said Senator Bigham. 

She also said sports betting could also be beneficial for the hospitality industry. She asks that her constituents that support this bill to contact their local legislator to help get this bill more attention. Opponents of the bill argue that sports betting could cause problem gambling or addiction. There are also some concerns over specific details like what could be betted on or having sports gambling be available online. 

In Iowa, Diamond Jo Casino has called Northwood home for almost 15 years, but sports betting has only been offered at the casino since the end of August 2019. The state of Iowa legalized sports betting in 2019. Diamond Jo offers all kinds of sports to bet on from the favorites like basketball and football, but also things like rugby and motor racing. Those at Diamond Jo said things have been going great and March Madness draws a lot of people in. 

"March Madness creates that environment right, you have 64 this year 68 teams in all that were vying for a spot right a national championship. So you have all these high-caliber games and people love that, it's the excitement and it has always been that way across the country," said Diamond Jo Vice President and General Manager, Scott Smith. 

Even during the pandemic, it has been a popular pastime. The casino added 20 kiosks for wagering to help with social distancing. 


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