Nearly half of Minnesota voters say sports gambling should be legalized in the state, a new Star Tribune/MPR News/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll found.
Forty-eight percent of Minnesotans said betting on sports should be legal here, while 33% said it should not be. About 1 in 5 Minnesotans were undecided on the issue.
"I don't have a reason for it to be illegal," said Max Roth, a 26-year-old Maple Grove resident who supports legalization. "I generally support things being legal unless there is evidence that by having them legal you are hurting people."
The poll surveyed 800 Minnesota likely voters from Sept. 12 to 14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Legalizing sports betting would represent a major expansion of for-profit gambling in the state. The DFL-controlled Minnesota House voted in May to legalize sports betting, but the proposal differed from the one in the GOP-controlled Senate and the two bodies were unable to reach an agreement before the session ended. Under the House measure, which was crafted with input from the state's 11 tribal nations, Minnesotans would have been able to place bets at brick-and-mortar locations and online.
Commercial sports betting was largely prohibited under federal law until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the ban unconstitutional in 2018. Sports betting is now legal in more than 30 states, including all of Minnesota's neighbors.
Iowa in particular has become a popular sports betting destination for Minnesotans.
In the Minnesota Poll, men were more likely than women to support legalizing sports gambling. Other than the gender difference, there were no stark divides on the issue between political parties, age groups or geographical areas.
Fifty-three percent of Democrats, 50% of Republicans and 40% of independents favored legal sports betting. Minnesotans who voted for former President Donald Trump were more likely to back sports gambling than those who voted for President Joe Biden .
In the Twin Cities metro area, about half of respondents supported legalizing sports betting, while in northern Minnesota, 53% did. Southern Minnesotans offered the least support for the issue at 39%, with another 39% in the region opposing it and 22% undecided.
The issue garnered less support among Minnesotans ages 18-34 than it did older groups. Those 35-49 years old were most likely to support legalizing sports gambling.
Mike Casey, a 62-year-old Duluth resident who opposes legalized sports gambling, said he thinks state resources could be better focused elsewhere. He said he worries that people who aren't wealthy could gamble away their incomes.
"I've always felt that gambling is a tax on the poor," Casey said.