Sports Betting Sponsors Say Racing Commission Decision on Historic Horse Racing Illegal

April 7, 2024 | Gaming Machines

Minnesota (April 5, 2024) — The recent decision by the Minnesota Racing Commission to legalize historic horse racing (HHR) has stirred controversy and opposition, particularly from legislators sponsoring bills to legalize mobile sports betting. Here’s a breakdown of the situation:

  1. Legality Concerns: Legislators like Rep. Zack Stephenson argue that the Racing Commission’s decision to approve HHR is illegal because it effectively allows video slot machines at racetracks, a move that contradicts state law granting exclusive casino gaming rights to Native American nations.
  2. Potential Legal Battles: Native American nations, which hold exclusive casino gaming rights, are considering legal action against the decision to allow HHR. They view it as encroaching on their exclusive rights.
  3. Impact on Sports Betting Bills: The decision to legalize HHR could complicate efforts to pass bills legalizing mobile sports betting. Legislators were previously considering financial support for racetracks as part of these bills, but the approval of HHR might change this dynamic.
  4. Criticism of HHR: Opponents like Sen. Matt Klein and Rep. Zack Stephenson argue that HHR is essentially a form of slot machine gambling disguised as historic horse racing. They believe it undermines the integrity of horse racing and blurs the line between traditional racing and casino-style gambling.
  5. Potential Ban on HHR: Lawmakers are now considering measures to ban HHR outright, irrespective of the fate of sports betting legislation. This move reflects their opposition to expanding gambling activities beyond what is currently allowed by law.
  6. Reaction from Industry: Executives from racing tracks, such as Running Aces CEO Taro Ito, support the decision, arguing that HHR will benefit the racing industry by increasing revenue, creating jobs, and generating additional income for state and local governments.

Overall, the decision to legalize HHR has sparked a contentious debate between proponents who see it as a boon for the racing industry and opponents who view it as a violation of existing gambling laws and a potential obstacle to passing sports betting legislation.

SOURCE: LI Contributor.

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