May 3, 2024 3 min read

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Political Tensions May Derail Legalization of Sports Betting in Minnesota

Pat Garofalo, a prominent figure in potential discussions between the Republican and Democratic parties, has suggested that the bill is unlikely to be taken into consideration this year

Attempts to legalize sports betting in Minnesota are facing significant hurdles due to political tensions in the wake of a state senator’s arrest on burglary charges.

Senator’s Arrest Puts Sports Betting Bill’s Fate in Jeopardy

Democratic Sen. Matt Klein, the bill’s chief sponsor, has expressed very moderate optimism about the bill’s fate. Klein, who represents Mendota Heights, commented in a recent interview that the burglary charges against Democratic Sen. Nicole Mitchell have definitely exacerbated political divisions and are a serious threat to the proposed bill, reported the Associated Press

Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo, a key figure in potential negotiations between the two parties, has hinted that the bill is unlikely to be considered this year, despite its great progress. Garofalo made a sports analogy to describe the hurdle facing the bill, commenting that what happened was like losing one of your best athletes in the final minutes of a game.

The scandal surrounding Mitchell is in relation to her alleged break-in at the house of her stepmother, with whom she no longer has a close relationship, possibly motivated by a dispute over sentimental items that belonged to her deceased father, including his ashes. 

Although Democratic senators have distanced themselves from Mitchell by removing her from party meetings and committees, they have not yet publicly demanded her resignation. Mitchell’s attorney has pointed to her right to due process and emphasized that at this point she refuses to resign.

House Speaker Holds Hope for Sports Betting Bill

Republican Party senators are using the scandal to their advantage by prolonging debate and obstructing the legislative process with attempts to remove Mitchell from her post. In the meantime, an ethics committee must consider a GOP complaint filed against her.

Despite bipartisan support for the bill set to legalize sports betting, its passage depends on very fragile political agreements and alliances given the Democratic Party’s very small majority advantage in both chambers. Contentious issues such as the inclusion of Native American tribes, the allocation of revenues to horse racing tracks and charitable gambling remain unresolved.

Sen. Klein, who acknowledged the now slim chance of the bill being passed, remains optimistic about negotiations with Republican Sen. Jeremy Miller. Still, Miller acknowledged that the debate over Mitchell’s post complicates things for the bill.

Democrats with Coon Rapids’ Zack Stephenson at the helm remain divided on the bill’s chances. Stephenson, while acknowledging the challenges, is still moderate in his predictions about the bill’s chances.

Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman hinted that the House could pass the bill in the final days of its session despite its fate being very uncertain in the Senate. Hortman is hopeful that passage of the bill could help remove the gridlock over the Mitchell scandal and spur further discussions.

Author

Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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