In Between Sessions, MN Faces Calls to Look at Sports Betting Risks
Thursday, June 29, 2023
Minnesota is in wait-and-see mode again when it comes to legalizing online sports betting, and one lawmaker hopes for more public discussion about any potential harms before anticipated votes next year.
The recent legislative session saw a renewed push to adopt a sports betting plan, but it ultimately faded behind other priorities.
Lawmakers from both major parties say as other states implement their own laws, Minnesota needs to keep pace to avoid losing revenue or seeing consumers seek out the illegal market.
Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, contends there has been too much debate in Minnesota over which entities would benefit, as opposed to protecting those who might fall into problem gambling.
"If we're going to legalize a system where powerful international corporations can profit by encouraging people to conduct very risky behavior, what I want to do is make sure this issue is fully vetted," Marty stressed.
Marty chairs the Senate Finance Committee and worries about platforms marketing to college-age students. He noted it might be premature to call for a hearing later this year before a likely debate next session, but added he would like more public dialogue. A key bill sponsor this year could not be reached for comment, but a recent version offered to use some revenue for a problem-gambling assistance program.
Susan Sheridan Tucker, executive director of the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling, said while her group is neutral on legalizing sports betting, she feels the public does not take the issue as seriously as other forms of addiction.
"It can be triggering for those with an addiction," Tucker explained. "And it can be very alluring to those who have no experience with gambling and don't necessarily understand the risks that are involved."
With the sports betting bill expected to be reconsidered, the organization is out with a new public awareness campaign focused on the seriousness of gambling addiction. Tucker added while there is free treatment available for problem gambling, the funding pales in comparison to treatment and prevention of alcohol and substance abuse.
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