A push to legalize sports betting in Minnesota is returning to the State Capitol next session after years of failed attempts to find a solution that all sides can agree on.

But odds are improving.

State Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, told reporters last week that he's preparing a legal sports betting bill to debut next session. As the chair of the chamber's Commerce Committee, which has oversight over state gaming operations, his support is significant in getting anything passed next year.

"Minnesotans should be able to engage in safe and legal sports betting right here in Minnesota," Stephenson said. "Legalizing of sports betting will be the most significant change in Minnesota's gaming laws in many years."

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that prohibited sports betting in all but a handful of states. Since then, 32 states have implemented sports betting laws, including all of Minnesota's neighboring states.

But much like liquor issues in Minnesota, gaming makes strange political bedfellows on both sides of the debate over legalizing sports betting. So far, the opponents have been powerful enough to quash efforts.

That includes conservative Republicans who are worried about the social impacts of more gambling in the state, and Democrats who are on the side of Minnesota tribes, which have opposed efforts to compete with their gaming compacts signed by the state.

But Stephenson said he's been consulting with the tribes and wouldn't be pitching a proposal if he didn't think there was potential for a deal.

Former Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, opposed legalized sports betting, but newly elected leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, has co-sponsored a version of a sports betting bill in the past.

Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, has led the push for sports betting for the Senate GOP in previous sessions and said he'll have a bill next year. "You work hard for your money, and if you want to place a little money in support of your favorite team, you shouldn't have to drive to Iowa or use an international gambling app to do it," he said.

But both sides will have to engage Gov. Tim Walz, who admitted on Thursday that he was "miffed" that legislators were talking about sports gambling before the parties agreed to a special session to pass aid for front-line workers and farmers hit by the drought.

"How about we get the essential workers and the drought stuff done and then you can move on to your next topic?" Walz said. "I'll leave that one for another day."

The devil is in the details, Stephenson admitted.

Without divulging any specifics, Stephenson said that Minnesota's neighboring states have taken a brick-and-mortar approach, meaning sports betting is allowed only on-site at places such as tribal casinos. He said Minnesota should look at that, although others have proposed legislation that also includes mobile betting.

"We should be cautious because this is a very momentous change," he said. "We need to proceed cautiously and deliberately, but it's time to get it done."