Legislative sessions around the region are primed to recess for the year. That makes it a good time to check in with a gambling update.
We’re at do-or-die time for state gambling policies in the Upper Midwest.
First, an Iowa gambling update
Iowa celebrated a three-year anniversary on Friday. May 13 marked the date in 2019 when Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill to legalize sports betting in Iowa.
But, as of now, no one brought a cake to the party.
HF 2497 would have expanded betting options but it is still on the legislative calendar as “unfinished business.”
About HF 2497
The Iowa gambling industry would like to add esports and off-the-field bets like the Cy Young award winner or Super Bowl MVP. Right now, you can bet on the league leader in scoring — as a stat — but you can’t vote for NBA “MVP” because that comes down to a voter’s opinion.
Iowa customers can’t legally bet on the NFL or NBA drafts, either. It’s too far away from the field for Iowa’s comfort under current laws.
Beyond sports bets, the Iowa Gaming Association would like:
- Customer use of e-wallets (a bank account cashiers could scan from your mobile device) since ATMs aren’t allowed on the gaming floor.
- HF 2497 also wanted to remove penalties if casino employees make a mistake. The industry feels a casino shouldn’t be fined if a customer on the self-exclusion list slips past security. Iowa casinos also cross-check big wins to make sure the winning bettor doesn’t have a state debt. They don’t want to be fined for an oversight since they are providing that collection service for the state.
“Unfinished business” means HF 2497 is still alive, but it doesn’t mean it will get a vote. Lawmakers are in overtime right now. They have work to do, but their daily stipend for food and lodging has expired.
With bigger state issues still unresolved, any 2022 gambling expansions may be the anniversary cake that doesn’t arrive in Iowa.
Looking ahead to 2023, the industry may make a stronger push for online casino game expansion in Iowa. That would keep the state’s gambling industry ahead of its bordering neighbors.
Nebraska gambling update
Gov. Pete Ricketts is a gambling opponent but he’s been overruled by Nebraska voters on the issue. The state’s residents approved a 2020 constitutional amendment that will allow the state’s six racetrack operators to add casinos to their properties.
Matt Olberding of the Lincoln Journal Star told his readers that Ricketts approved casino rules on Wednesday. They will go into effect Monday, but the first casino applications won’t be accepted for a few weeks. The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission hasn’t set its license application fee yet. And, it won’t until its next meeting on June 2.
Even then, the commission hasn’t hired all of the staff required to conduct background checks on the casino developers and key employees. That could be another 1-2 month process.
Don’t expect construction until late summer or early fall, based on Olberding’s reporting. The eventual betting — including sports wagers — will be limited to the casino properties. In Iowa, customers can bet on sports from anywhere.
The Iowa casino industry is watching Nebraska developments closely because Council Bluffs is Iowa’s largest gambling market — thanks in no small part to Omaha’s proximity across the Missouri River. One of the state’s six racetracks is located in Nebraska’s largest city. They’re planning a “racino” project upwards of $220 million there.
Minnesota gambling update
Legal Sports Report sees good news and bad news for folks who want to bet on sports in Minnesota.
The good news comes from the Minnesota House of Representatives. LSR’s Pat Evans tells us state reps passed HF 778 on a 70-57 vote after a journey through five House committees. The bill gives 11 federally-recognized tribes in Minnesota exclusive rights to operate the sports betting market.
Evans’ sources suggest the state senate wants to give Minnesota’s racetracks and pro sports franchises a piece of the sports-betting action, however. Plus, some Minnesota Senate Republicans are against sports betting on principle.
Lawmakers have until May 23 to send the bill to Gov. Tim Walz. Evans wrote that the prospects “do not look promising.”
It looks like college football’s Floyd of Rosedale trophy and sports bets will remain in Iowa for now.
Missouri gambling update
Iowa won’t lose any sports-betting business to the south for at least a year either. The Missouri Senate adjourned a day early and ended their work for the 2022 legislative session. Sports betting has some traction, but legislation missed the cut.
Missouri Senator Denny Hoskins gave constituents a 2022 sports-betting eulogy on Thursday. He suggests the state’s pro franchises and potential sportsbook operators couldn’t get all of the Missouri casinos on board.
Interestingly, the day Missouri state Senators gaveled out, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill to make Kansas the 35th state to legalize sports betting. And, 80% of the gambling revenue will be earmarked to lure Kansas City sports franchises across the border from … Missouri.
More news along the borders
South Dakota needed a 2020 constitutional amendment just to bring sports betting to the state. Voters gave the idea a green light and game wagers began in Deadwood just in time for the most recent NFL season. Deadwood is an Old West casino town in the Black Hills. The vote was great for tourists, but most of the state’s population is on the east side of the state.
As the football season came to a close, South Dakota lawmakers considered a bill that would have allowed voters to consider mobile sports betting throughout the state (instead of just retail bets at the Deadwood casinos).
Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 502 died in committee. It won’t be on the fall ballot.
Sioux Falls is South Dakota’s largest city. And, it’s located less than 20 miles from Iowa border. It looks like Iowa casinos and sportsbook companies will continue to pull in out-of-state customers from southeast South Dakota for now.
Sports betting is available through tribal compacts with the state of Wisconsin. So far three tribal nations have sports betting agreements with Gov. Tony Evers.
- The Oneida Nation Casino in Green Bay went live with sports betting in November. They have a kiosk at the Oneida Casino Main-Airport for registration. Several Oneida tribal commercial properties in Green Bay allow geo-located mobile sports betting as well. If you can find an Oneida-operated convenience store in Green Bay, you can likely use their app for a sports bet there.
- The St. Croix Chippewa Casino in Turtle Lake, WI, received approval for sports betting at the end of 2021. The western Wisconsin casino is about 90 minutes away from the Twin Cities.
- The Forest County Potawatomi Community amended its gambling compact with the Wisconsin Governor’s Office as well. On paper, Forest County is pretty remote and sparse. Follow the sports bets to a key piece of property, however. The February agreement means sports betting will come to Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee. Customers can make sports bets in Wisconsin’s largest city soon.
As of March 5, Illinois residents no longer have to find a casino to sign up for a sportsbook. They can register from anywhere in the state. And, Illinois customers clearly like the option. The state took in nearly $1 billion in bets during the first month of remote registration. About 95.5% of the sports bets were placed online.
Iowa won’t get as many road trips for sports bets as they used to as a result. Illinois wagers can stay on the east side of the Mississippi River now.