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Last reviewed February 2022

Resources on Minnesota Issues

This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to state legislators. It introduces the topic and points to sources for further research. It is not intended to be exhaustive.

Legislative History  Books and Reports • Articles  Internet Resources  Additional Resources

There are a few forms of legal gambling in Minnesota: pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, a card club at Canterbury Park, Indian tribal casinos, charitable gambling, and a state lottery. Lawful gambling and gambling devices are governed by Minnesota Statutes Chapter 349 and are overseen by the Gambling Control Board.

From 1945 through 1981, limited gambling for charitable purposes was permitted in Minnesota; no other type of gambling was lawful. In 1982, the Minnesota Legislature proposed a constitutional amendment to allow pari-mutuel betting in the state. Voters approved the amendment in 1983 and pari-mutuel horse racing was legalized. The Minnesota Racing Commission supervises the conduct of pari-mutuel betting on horse racing. Pari-mutuel horse racing is governed by Minnesota Statutes Chapter 240.

In 1989, the Minnesota Legislature created a state lottery, which is governed by Minnesota Statutes Chapter 349A. The Lottery is operated under the control of a director appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. In 1999, Canterbury Park was granted legislative authority to operate a card club at the racetrack.

Tribal casinos in Minnesota operate under a combination of state law, tribal ordinance, and tribal-state compacts. The United States Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, codifying gambling on Indian land (see U.S. Code Title 25, Chapter 29: Indian Gaming Regulation and Minnesota Statutes Chapter 3.9221).

Since the early 2000s, debate has grown over whether or not sports betting should be legal. Fantasy sports betting has also grown in popularity; it is legalized in some states as a game of skill but outlawed in other states. A bill proposed in 2016 (HF2540) would have explicitly authorized fantasy sports betting in Minnesota. The House discussed the bill in committee, and on the floor. The bill passed in the House, but did not come to a vote in the Senate. The 2016 Senate State Fair Opinion Poll included a question about whether the state should regulate and tax the operations of online fantasy sports games.

In May 2018, United States Supreme Court ruled "that a federal law that bars states from legalizing sports betting violates the anti-commandeering doctrine. Their decision not only opens the door for states around the country to allow sports betting, but it also could give significantly more power to states generally, on issues ranging from the decriminalization of marijuana to sanctuary cities" (see "Opinion analysis: Justices strike down federal sports gambling law" in SCOTUSblog).

After this ruling, many states began legalizing sports betting. As of early 2022, 29 states have made the practice legal. While Minnesota has not yet legalized sports betting in the state, bills proposed in the 2019-2020 session would have legalized the practice (SF1894 and HF1278). Neither bill passed in 2019-2020, and bills were again introduced in the 2021-2022 session (see House bills and Senate bills). Lawmakers continue to actively discuss the topic.

Legislative History

For a more detailed legislative history, see the House Research document, Gambling in Minnesota: A Short History, and their other Gambling Publications.

Significant Books and Reports

Annual Report. Roseville, MN: Minnesota State Lottery. (HG6133.M6 M57)

Annual Report of the Minnesota Gambling Control Board. Roseville, MN: Minnesota Gambling Control Board. (HV6721.M6 M56)

Annual Report of the Minnesota Racing Commission. St. Paul: Minnesota Racing Commission. (SF324.35.M6 M56)

Arts, Waltraud A. The Authority of the Minnesota Legislature to Authorize Gaming Operated by the State. Madison, WI: Quarles & Brady, LLP, 2005. (KFM5785.A78 2005)

"Betting on Sports: Should it be Legal Nationwide?" CQ Researcher, October 28, 2016, p. 889-911. (full report available in the library)

Casino City's North American Gaming Almanac. Newton, MA: Casino City Press. (Reference GV1301.C37) (Includes state by state revenue comparisons, and more. Newest edition in reference; back issues in stacks)

Champion, Walter and I. Nelson Rose. Gaming Law in a Nutshell. St. Paul, MN: West Academic Publishing, 2018. (KF9440 .C47 2018)

Charitable Gambling Impact Study : A Brief Review of the Fiscal Impact of a Statewide Smoking Ban on Lawful Gambling. Roseville, MN : Minnesota Gambling Control Board, 2008. (HV6721.M6 C43 2008)

Charitable Gambling in Minnesota. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department, 2015.

The Economic Impact of Indian Gaming in Minnesota. Bemidji, MN: Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, 2016. (E78.M7 E46 2016)

Financial Summary for Licensed Lawful Gambling Organizations. Roseville, MN: State of Minnesota, Gambling Control Board. (HV6721.M6 F565) (annual report from 2005-2016)

Gambling in Minnesota: An Overview. St. Paul: Minnesota State Lottery, 2013.

Gambling Taxes. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department.

Governor's Report on Compulsive Gambling. St. Paul: Office of the Governor. (RC569.5 G35 G69) (Annual report from 2003-2014)

Grinols, Earl. Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004. (HV6715.G76 2004)

Gambling Regulation and Oversight. St. Paul: Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor, Program Evaluation Division, 2005. (HV6721.M6 J86 2005)

Indian Gambling in Minnesota. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department, 2016.

Lawful (Charitable) Gambling in Minnesota: Issues Facing the Industry. Roseville, MN: Minnesota Gambling Control Board, 2009. (HV6721.M6 L393 2009)

Lawful Gambling Manual. Roseville, MN: Minnesota Gambling Control Board. (KFM5785.Z9 L39)

Lottery Organization Task Force. Lottery Organizational Task Force Report. St. Paul: The Task Force, 2005. (HG6133.M6 L69 2005)

Minnesota State Lottery. St. Paul: Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor, Program Evaluation Division, 2004. (HG6133.M6 Y86 2004)

Minnesota State Lottery: Internal Controls, Compliance, and Information Technology Audit. St. Paul: Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor, Financial Audit Division, 2016. (HJ9865.A27 no. 16-16) (This fiscal review contains, as an appendix, a "memo to legislators.")

Minnesota State Lottery Overview. Roseville, Minnesota: Minnesota State Lottery, 2013.

Online Gambling: Federal Law. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department, 2017.

Report to the Legislature on the Status of Indian Gambling in Minnesota. St. Paul: Office of the Governor, Minnesota Attorney General, and Tribal-State Compact Negotiating Committee, 1991.

Runge, C. Ford. The Workforce Economic Benefits of Minnesota Indian Gaming Association Member Tribes' Casino-Resorts. Minnesota : Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, 2007. (E78.M7 R86 2007)

Social and Economic Costs of Gambling: A Report to the 2008 Minnesota Legislature. St. Paul: Minnesota Dept. of Human Services, 2007. (HV6721.M6 S63 2007)

Stinchfield, Randy. Evaluation of State-Supported Pathological Gambling Treatment in Minnesota. [Minneapolis]: 2008. (RC569.5.G35 S754 2008)

Texas Hold'em. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department, 2008.

Williams, John. Gambling in Minnesota: A Short History. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department, 2005. (KFM5785.Z9 W54 2005)

Significant Articles

(articles in reverse chronological order)

Nelson, Emma. "Minnesota Legislators Renew Bipartisan Sports Betting Push." Star Tribune, February 16, 2022.

Callaghan, Peter. "Bill to Legalize Sports Betting in Minnesota Coming Soon, Says Key House Lawmaker." MinnPost, February 15, 2022.

Bierschbach, Briana. "Bipartisan Push Coming in 2022 to Legalize Sports Betting in Minnesota." Star Tribune, November 7, 2021.

Significant Internet Sites

Minnesota's Tribal State Gaming Compacts

Bureau of Indian Affairs' Gaming Compacts

Minnesota's Gambling Control Board

Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division, Department of Public Safety

Minnesota House Research Department's Gambling Publications

Links to the World: Gambling includes links to information about gambling and to groups monitoring gambling issues

Other Sources of Information

Regulatory Statutes and Rules: lawful gambling; State Lottery; pari-mutuel racing; gambling enforcement; statute regarding compacts for Indian gaming; Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Administrative Rules. (See also "gambling" in the statutes topic index.)

Criminal Statutes: gambling, definitions; lottery fraud; act of or relating to gambling; prohibited acts in pari-mutuel horse racing; other acts related to gambling; operations permitted; forfeiture of gambling devices, prizes, and proceeds. (See also "gambling" in the statutes topic index.)

For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping Files and the Vertical Files:

G2 (Gambling), G2.4 (Gambling – Charitable), G2.1 (Gambling – Compulsive), G2.3 (Gambling – Indian), G2.6 (Gambling – Lottery), G2.10 (Gambling – Pari-mutuel Betting),G 2.18 (Gambling – Video Gambling/Slot Machines), M68 (Gambling Control Board), R10.8 (Racing – Canterbury Park)

For additional reports at the Legislative Library, use these Library catalog searches:
Gambling; Gambling (Minnesota); Indian Gaming (Minnesota); Lotteries; Lotteries (Minnesota); Compulsive Gamblers; Charitable Gambling.

Periodicals in the Library’s collection:

Gaming News
La Fleur's Magazine
Link (Minnesota State Lottery)

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