Minnesota Legislator Wins Big Betting NFL Games In Iowa

Posted on December 4, 2020

Minnesota Rep. Pat Garofalo had a sweat during the unusual Wednesday NFL game.

He won the first two parts of a six-team, six-point teaser bet. The third pick seemed like a gimme— the Pittsburgh Steelers -1 against the Baltimore Ravens.

With the Ravens getting the ball down by five late in the fourth quarter, he tweeted a picture of his betting ticket saying, “I am in no mood for this.”

He had no reason for concern. The shorthanded Ravens folded and his $1,000 bet paid $2,400.

But, like many Minnesotans, Garofalo had to go out of state to place his bet. Despite his best efforts, Minnesota hasn’t authorized sports betting.

“For me, the good news is it has been a very successful betting year,” Garofalo told PlayIA. “The bad news is I’ve got to drive to Iowa to legally do it.”

Legislator one of many Minnesotans going to Iowa to bet

After the bet won, Garofalo deleted his previous tweet and posted a celebratory one.

He lives in Farmington, MN, on the southern edge of the Twin Cities, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Diamond Jo Worth Casino.

“I’ve seen a lot of Minnesotans there on the weekends,” Garofalo said. “Diamond Jo is right across the border.”

He’s made that trek regularly during the NFL season to bet in person at FanDuel Sportsbook.

“It’s been a successful NFL season for me, so I’m pretty excited,” Garofalo said.

Update on Minnesota sports betting legislation

Garofalo, who has been in the Minnesota Legislature for 15 years, would like to bet in his own state rather than drive to Iowa.

He introduced Minnesota’s first legislation to legalize sports betting in 2019. But in the two-year session, it couldn’t even get a committee hearing. Despite catering his bill to Minnesota tribal casinos by only allowing them to operate sportsbooks and not allowing for online wagering, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association opposed.

The Senate made another attempt at sports betting this year, expanding venues to horse tracks and permitting online wagering with in-person registration. The tribal association again opposed and the bill didn’t make it out of committee.

Garofalo says he plans to reintroduce his legislation in 2021, but he has no reason to believe it will go anywhere as long as tribal opposition continues.

“The prospects in Minnesota are pretty weak,” Garofalo said. “Everyone’s focus is on COVID, so that sucks a lot of oxygen out of the room. We’re doing all our sessions remotely, which makes it more difficult. And this is seen as something controversial, so that moves it to the bottom of the stack.

“I’m an enthusiastic supporter of regulating sports betting and there’s a lot of public support for it, so I’m going to try but I’m pretty pessimistic about our chances this session.”

It sounds like Garofalo and many more Minnesotans will continue crossing the border into Iowa in 2021.

Photo by Jim Mone / AP
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Matthew Kredell

Kredell has covered efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling since 2007. His reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. A USC journalism alum, Kredell started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News and has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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