Is Sports Betting Legal in Minnesota?

For a midwestern state with a less-than-enviable climate, Minnesota has a fairly feverish sports scene. They’re not so much about collegiate aethletics, unless you’re talking about hockey and, surprisingly, tennis. But they do have four professional teams across all of North America’s major sports, a testament to their population’s dedication to the gaming world. Minnesota’s interest in sports does have a precedent for average-to-above average gambling laws.

Minnesota Sports Betting Law

They’re not as liberal as some other states, particularly when it comes to non-tribal casinos and card nights. But they’re not a suffocating location, either. All in all, while you won’t find any domestic betting options, you have plenty of ways to get your live fix at casinos and online sportsbooks.

High Number of Tribal Casinos

There are currently 18 tribal casinos, split among 11 different tribes, in the state of Minnesota. Unlike other areas, in which there are clustered sections densely populated by two or more gambling establishments, Minnesota scatters its casinos all over the place.

A quick look at the 18 tribal venues shows you won’t find more than two within direct vicinity of one another, and this dual proximity is limited to roughly two or three instances.

The rest are all over. They may be relatively close to one another, but you won’t find a strip of gambling abodes to visit en masse—a gift in the sense it makes them accessible to the entire state, but a curse if people are looking for weekend getaways that feature casino-hopping.

Daily Fantasy Sports are Coming…Maybe

Legislation has been proposed to approve the operation of daily fantasy sports in Minnesota. They join 18 other states that also have bills pending. This is neither good nor bad.

Most states don’t take a specific stance when it comes to online gambling, and daily fantasy sports kind of exists under that category.

These bills, as such, are likely to remain in limbo for quite some time, if not be rejected only to necessitate amendation and resubmission, a cyclical process that can take years to labor through.

Casino Nights are Considered Illegal

Charitable and social gambling are legal in Minnesota. That being said, in no way, shape or form are casino nights that take place outside actual casinos allowed. Even owning the equipment to orchestrate a casino-themed party or gambling event is a no-go.

Sure, you can have a poker table for you and your friends. And yes, technically, low-key casino nights in your living room aren’t going to be busted. But, officially, owning an operational roulette table, slot machine, etc. is an offense punishable by law.

To be absolutely certain, you’re free to collect antique roulette tables and slot machines, but purchasing one with the intent to operate and profit off of it can get you into trouble. 

Online Sportsbooks are Kind Of, Sort Of Okay

Nothing in Minnesota’s laws on gambling literature indicates that patroning online sportsbooks is illegal. No, you can neither own, operate nor patron one that’s on U.S. soil. That’s still mainly a Vegas thing, so if you’re making bets with a domestic bookie, you’re likely breaking a ton of laws.

Federal mandates, however, trump state legislature. That’s why many states, like Minnesota, don’t explicitly outlaw online gambling. It’s by and large impossible to properly monitor, so they leave it to the federal branches to regulate; and as of now, the opinion of those branches aligns with most states, including Minnesota: Go ahead and use the international online sportsbooks and casinos.

Report winnings come tax season, or don’t. You exclude those at your own risk. But so long as you’re not involved or investing in domestic sportsbooks and unlicensed casinos (i.e. backroom gaming circuits), you’re in the clear. 

Minnesota Gambling Law Overview

Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren’t allowed in Minnesota at this time.

  • Casino Gambling: Legal
  • Tribal Gambling: Legal
  • Poker: Legal
  • Horse-Race Betting: Legal
  • Dog-Race Betting: Not legal
  • Lottery: Legal
  • Daily Fantasy Betting: Not specified (but there is a pending proposal)
  • Social Gambling: Legal
  • Charitable Gambling: Legal
  • Online Gambling: Not specified

Minnesota Sports Teams

Minnesota Wild (NHL)

Hockey is the most popular sport in Minnesota. The NFL probably supersedes the NHL in popularity still, but citizens of this fine state love them some ice puck-ing. That makes the Minnesota Wild a major draw—particularly when they’ve clinched postseason appearances in each of the past five years, bowing out in the first round during just one of those instances. That’s a pretty big deal for a franchise that’s only technically been around since 2000, which works out to less than two decades.

Minnesota Vikings (NFL)

The Minnesota Vikings are a touchy topic of discussion around these parts. Indeed, they have enjoyed stretches of protracted dominance, but their historical track record is steeped in disappointment. Not only have they never won a Super Bowl, but they went 0-4 in those championship tilts between 1969 and 1976. Imagine being that close, so many times, so darn often, and never once getting over the hump.

It has to sting. And what’s happened thereafter hasn’t helped. They haven’t made a Super Bowl appearance since that 1976 cameo, and they’ve snagged five playoff bids since 2001.

Then, just when things were looking up with Teddy Bridgewater under center, the franchise quarterback suffered a major injury in 2016. He missed the entire season, and his status in the coming years is uncertain. Some around the league believe he’ll never be the same. The Vikings can only wait, and hope, and see.

Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)

The Timberwolves are basically the Vikings of the NBA. They’ve posted one long stretch of immense success since opening their doors in 1989—an eight-year stretch headlined by Kevin Garnett, a parade of other stars, a bunch of 50-win seasons and eight consecutive playoff appearances.

Here’s the thing: The Timberwolves lost in the first round seven times through those eight tries, only ever tasting the Western Conference Finals once. They have missed the playoffs in every year since 2004, during which time multiple rebuilding reiterations have failed…miserably.

Good news, though: The latest rendition of these Timberwolves looks pretty good. They enter the next few years with no less than two All-Star candidates, in Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns, and could nab one more if Andrew Wiggins ever pops.

All in all, their playoff drought should be coming to an end very, very soon. 

Minnesota’s Biggest Sporting Event of the Year

The Ryder Cup is an official PGA event that takes place every other year in Chaska, Minnesota. When it’s not being played in the states, it takes place over in Europe. It was last in Minnesota during 2016 and has been running on a biennial basis since 1927.

Results / FixturesNHL, NFL, NBA