Jan 24, 2024 - Politics

Minnesotans were blocked from placing mobile sports bets in other states 1.6 million times in 2023

Animated illustration of a sports betting app on a phone starting to shake, and a delete button popping up in the top right corner.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

People in Minnesota tried β€” and failed β€” to access legal online sports betting sites in other states 1.6 million times last year, according to a new analysis commissioned by the pro-legalization Sports Betting Alliance.

The big picture: Sports betting is booming as more states legalize gambling on games. Neighboring Iowa and Wisconsin and 36 others have already done so.

  • But the practice remains illegal in Minnesota amid a political stalemate over who should get to operate β€” and profit from β€” the sportsbooks.

What's new: The report, conducted by a company that specializes in geolocation compliance, fraud, and cybersecurity, identified 100,000 mobile sports betting user accounts tied to Minnesota.

Context: Sports betting operators use location data to block mobile bettors from using their services while in states where the practice is illegal.

  • About 60% of the thwarted attempts from Minnesota were trying to access mobile betting sites in Iowa, which legalized sports wagering in 2019.

Yes, but: Thousands of the Minnesota accounts also logged activity from within Iowa's borders, per a news release, suggesting some people here were traveling to bet on their phones,

Catch up fast: Tribal nations in Minnesota have long insisted on exclusive rights to the licenses for in-person and mobile betting.

Between the lines: A bill legalizing sports betting will likely need bipartisan support to pass the DFL-majority Legislature, given that several Democrats are staunchly opposed to the gambling expansion on moral grounds.

  • Republican supporters, including state Sen. Jeremy Miller, have said race tracks' concerns need to be addressed to win their votes.

What we're watching: Miller already announced plans to introduce legislation that would give exclusive licensing rights to the tribes, but allow them to partner with Canterbury Park and Running Aces to offer betting on-site at the tracks, too.

  • DFL state Sen. Matt Klein, a key committee chair whose efforts to pass a compromise bill fell short last year, told MinnPost recently that he's working on a new draft of his own.
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