While the state of Minnesota doesn't have any legalized privately-owned casinos, there are plenty of brick and mortar locations for residents of the state to gamble at thanks to tribal casinos. Minnesota was among the first states in the nation to embrace tribal gaming, and as a result the industry has thrived across the state.
Minnesota has laws on the book stating that bets made privately are legal, and that poker tournaments and other tournaments with well known games are legal if the prizes awarded aren't too high. The state's stance on gaming is far more relaxed than it is in many other states.
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Gaming Laws in Minnesota
Minnesota helped set the tone for tribal casinos in the United States. In 1988, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. This law enabled tribes across the country to run gaming operations on federally recognized trust land without fear of interference or prosecution from local governments.
One year later, Minnesota became the first state in the United States to negotiate and sign gambling compacts with its tribes. In doing so, Minnesota was able to get in on the action to help raise money for jobs and schools and other programs, while the Native American casinos benefited from having the endorsement and help with regulation from the state. States striking deals with their local tribes would become commonplace in the years to follow with Minnesota paving the way.
In 2012, the state passed a law that would allow for electronic gambling in the form of pull tabs to be legalized and installed in bars across the state. A good portion of the money earned from this electronic gambling was to be set aside for a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. The popularity and effectiveness of these pull tabs turned out to be largely over-projected as very little money was raised statewide.
Sports Betting in Minnesota
It is currently illegal to place a bet in the state of Minnesota with a bookmaker, and bookmaking in the state is considered a felony. Minnesota states that a “private social bet not part of or incidental to organized, commercialized or systematic gambling” is not illegal.
A Push For Legalization
In 2015, Minnesota House of Representatives member Phyllis Kahn created a bill that would legalize sports gambling in the state of Minnesota. Kahn believes that the support for this bill could be in place after the state recently approved expanding pull tab gambling to help pay for a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.
If this bill were to pass, the state of Minnesota would have to legally challenge the federal law against sports betting before it could be instituted. New Jersey was unsuccessful in a similar attempt after passing a bill that would have allowed sports gambling in that state.
In the meantime, sports bettors in Minnesota are left with offshore wagering as their best option to place sports bets. There is no specific mention in the Minnesota Statutes about online gambling, and no resident of the state of Minnesota has ever been charged or prosecuted for wagering on sports at an offshore sportsbook.
Poker and Casino in Minnesota
Minnesota's long-lasting relationship with tribal gaming has paved the way for over a dozen Native American casinos across the state. These casinos are not authorized to spread all table games, but most do spread blackjack and all offer a wide variety of electronic games including slot machines and video poker.
Some of these locations also have poker rooms that offer live cash games and tournaments. Both of Minnesota's active racetracks also include poker rooms, with Canterbury Park holding weekly tournaments. Minnesota's laws are generally relaxed on poker, as poker tournaments are legal even outside of tribal grounds as long as the prizes awarded to each individual do not exceed $200.
Players looking for additional poker action in Minnesota often turn to online poker through an offshore poker room. Minnesota has no laws in place prohibiting playing poker in your own home or online, so there is no precedent for the state taking a stand against this behavior. To date, no resident of Minnesota has faced any legal issues with playing poker online.
Offshore poker rooms do not fall under the jurisdiction of Minnesota or the United States, so they are able to offer services despite Minnesota's laws against organized gambling institutions.
Other Gaming Options in Minnesota
Minnesota has two active race tracks for horse racing with Canterbury Park in Shakopee offering standard horse racing and the Running Aces Harness Park in Columbus offering Harness racing. Simulcast wagering is available at the Harness park and in some of the tribal casinos in the state as well.
A variety of games are offered by the Minnesota Lottery including scratchcard games, in-state draws and multi-state draws such as the Mega Millions and Powerball. In-state favorites include the Daily 3, Northstar Cash and Gopher 5. The Gopher 5 draws five numbers three days a week and has a starting jackpot of $100,000.
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