Thousands of Minnesotans were locked out of sports betting during the NCAA Tournament


Minnesotans were eager to bet through online sportsbooks during the opening rounds of the NCAA March Madness tournaments.

According to Fluence Media, GeoComply, a geolocation compliance company, reported more than 86,700 attempts from Minnesota to access legal online sports betting in other states from March 21 through the end of the month.

Most attempts (61 percent) came from Minnesota residents trying to access legal online sports betting in Iowa.

More than a million attempts last year

GeoComply blocked all attempts by Minnesota residents to access legal online sports betting apps in neighboring states. Although there is no legislation legalizing sports betting in Minnesota, the company reported that there are currently more than 100,000 online sports betting user accounts registered in the state.

The recent burst of activity in the NCAA March Madness tournament has been no different than other major sporting events in the state.

During Super Bowl weekend 2024, GeoComply conducted more than 31,000 geolocation checks of devices in the North Star State to access legal online sports betting in other states. That was a 17% increase over the number of checks in the 2023 Super Bowl.

Likewise, 62 percent of users attempted to access legal online sports betting through books in Iowa.

Earlier this year, GeoComply reported that there were more than 1.6 million attempts to access legal sports betting in other states from devices in the state last year.

Three bills are pending in Parliament

Minnesota lawmakers are currently considering three possible bills to legalize sports betting in the state.

Representative Zack Stephenson's bill (DFL-35A), HF 2000, and Senator Matt Klein's sports betting bill (DFL-53, SF 1949) are companion pieces, both of which legalize sports betting in Minnesota but contain different elements in their legislation .

Both HF 2000 and SF 1949 aim to legalize retail and online sports betting for tribes in the state of Minnesota. The bills give sports betting exclusivity to tribes and allow each tribe to have a sports betting retail location and a digital skin for offering online sports betting.

The following tribes would be eligible to offer retail and/or online sports betting if the bills are approved:

  • Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
  • Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Grand Portage Band of Chippewa
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Lower Sioux Indian Community
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Prairie Island Indian Community
  • Red Lake Nation
  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
  • Upper Sioux Community
  • White Earth Nation

However, both laws contain different game elements on their pages. Stephenson successfully amended HF 2000 in committee to allow the legalization of daily fantasy sports (Minnesota is a gray state for DFS) and introduced $40 million in tax breaks for Minnesota charities.

Klein's bill, SF 1949, was heavily amended in committee. The Minnesota Senate Commerce and Consumer Committee approved an amendment to ban in-game sports betting in the bill. The amendment, proposed by Senator Jordan Rasmusson (R-9), would allow regulators to take a “product safety approach” and add common-sense tools to “mitigate some of the harms that can arise from problem gambling.”

No state with legalized sports betting has a similar ban.

Klein further amended his bill by increasing the tax rate from 10 to 20 percent, enforcing changes to the distribution of sports betting tax revenue, and implementing changes to the way promotions and free bets are deducted from licensed sports betting operators.

Finally, a third bill introduced in the Senate today by Senator John Marty (DFL-40) will also legalize sports betting for Minnesota tribes.

Marty's bill, SF 5330, requires the awarding of licenses through a competitive bidding process, sets the state tax rate for sports betting at a minimum of 40 percent of gross receipts, and allocates 75 percent of sports betting tax revenue to combat problem gambling in the state.

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