By Pat Kessler


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Just like every year, March Madness is taking over offices all over America in the form of Final Four brackets.

But this year, there’s a twist.

A United Sports Supreme Court ruling in 2018 now allows states to set up legal sports gambling — and it could be headed for Minnesota.

According to the American Gaming Association, 47 million Americans will wager $8.5 billion on the NCAA Tournament this year, including wildly-popular office pools. Almost all of those bets are illegal. That is partly why states like Minnesota are considering ways to legalize sports gambling.

A series of bills at the Minnesota State Capitol would make sports betting legal at horse racing tracks, Native American casinos and even on mobile phones.

It is part of a nationwide push to bet on the games. Eight states now let you bet on sports: Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. And two more — New York and Arkansas — are going online this year. And that’s just the beginning.

(credit: CBS)

Twenty-eight states, including Minnesota, are now advancing sports betting bills with the promise big tax revenues for states.

Where it’s legal, tax estimates for this year range from $3 million in Mississippi to $30 million in Pennsylvania.

Here are the 2019 tax revenue estimates for new states with sports gambling:

  • New Jersey: $19 million
  • West Virginia: $16 million
  • Pennsylvania: $30 million
  • Mississippi: $3 million
  • Rhode Island: $23.5 million

There is no official estimates for sports betting tax revenues for Minnesota, and the odds are against it happening. Right now, gambling is only allowed at Native American casinos and horse racing tracks in Minnesota. The state can pass sports betting on its own, but the tribes are politically powerful and they oppose it.

Meanwhile, despite Final Four fever, the NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal gambling! Here is the NCAA statement:

The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal wagering, which has the potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests and jeopardizes the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community.

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:

Minnesota Gambling Bills: Senate

Minnesota Gambling Bills: House

American Gaming Association: NCAA Betting

Twin Cities Business: Minnesota Tribes Oppose Sports Betting

ESPN: State By State Sports Betting Tracker

Legal Sports Report: Legislative Tracker

Pew Trust: States Jump At Chance To Boost Revenue With Sports Betting

Pew Stateline: Show Me The Money

NCAA Statement On Sports Betting

Average Athletic Scholarship Per College Athlete

National Conference of State Legislatures: More States Wagering On Sports Gambling

Bloomberg Opinion: Sports Betting

MarketWatch: Will Sports Betting Make Money For States?

Pat Kessler

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