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Online Casinos and Online Gambling in Minnesota

Minnesota does not have any laws against online casinos and gambling.

This means that there are a variety of online options open to players in Minnesota.   Casino, poker, bingo and sportsbook sites exist that cater to American players who wish to play online.  We have compliled the best and safest online casinos for Minnesota players which you can view in the US casinos section of this site.

Minnesota Casino Gambling History

In 1945, Minnesota legalized it’s first form of gambling, bingo. However, the state only allowed fraternal, charitable and other not-for-profit organizations to hold bingo gaming events, so long as the profits did not go to a single person. Each organization had to notify its local government within 30 days of planned bingo gaming events. Even today, only nonprofit organizations can conduct Bingo gaming events for charitable purposes in the state of Minnesota.

Early Minnesota laws left little room for commercial gaming, but this didn’t stop the presence of slot machines in the state, even though they were still illegal. In the post-World War II era, it is estimated that there were nearly 8,000 illegal slot machines operated in Minnesota, with an estimated revenue of $4 million dollars each year. In order to stop the illegal presence of slot machines in the state, Minnesota legislators took a controversial and bold move of outlawing the mere possession of a gambling device in 1947.

In 1976, Minnesota legislatures made their first attempt into gambling regulation by signing an exhaustive bingo regulation act. The act acknowledged that prior attempts to regulate bingo gaming had not been successful, and the purpose of the new law was to further regulate and manage bingo gaming to prevent commercialization of the game.

The act required that nonprofit organizations offering bingo gaming obtain a license from it’s local government and report all gaming members each year to their local gambling regulation agency. Gross profits after expenses and prizes were limited to lawful purposes, such as religious, charitable, educational and patriotic purposes.

Each establishment had to limit bingo prizes to $100 per game, with the exception of high stakes “coverall” games. Total prizes for each bingo gaming session could not exceed $2,500 to $3,000 where coverall games were played. Establishments could hold no more than two bingo gaming sessions each week.

In the three decades following 1945, the Minnesota legislature spent the majority of it’s time trying to regulate and legalize a gaming activity that was already taking place for several years in the state. A similar pattern followed as bingo control slowly morphed into charitable gambling control. The Minnesota legislature expanded the forms of charitable gambling in 1978 to include paddle-wheels, punch-boards and raffles. In each instance, the expansion was a nod to a form of gaming that had already been widespread, albeit illegal, in the state.

In 1984, the  Minnesota legislators transferred control of charitable gaming from local governments to the state. Lawmakers felt that the state sales tax, which should have applied to total receipts from charitable gambling, was not being collected given the state Department of Revenue had no consistent method of keeping records of which organizations were offering participating in gaming and gambling events. The transfer created a Charitable Gaming Control Board, which would be in charge of licensing and management of gambling proceeds. Any organization that conducted gambling was required to obtain a license from the board and register all gambling equipment.

Indian Casinos and Gaming

Since the 1970s, Federal courts ruled that states only enforce criminal laws upon it’s Indian tribes, not laws that were civil in nature. Therefore, gaming laws that prevented the commercialization of gaming and casinos in any state did not apply to the respective state’s Indian tribes. Soon, bingo parlors that were operating free from state regulation popped up on Indian lands across the U.S., including in Minnesota.

Quite a few Indian reservation bingo parlors developed in the early 1980s. In 1981 the Big Bucks parlor opened in Cloquet, Minnesota on the Fond du Lac Chippewa reservation. In 1982, the Little Six parlor on the Mdewakanton Sioux reservation. In 1984, bingo parlor operations opened on the Prarie Island Sioux reservation and the Leech Lake Chippewa operation. By 1987, Minnesota had at least14 Indian bingo parlors. Each operation drew in a significant amount of customers, since they weren’t restricted by charitable gaming laws and were able to offer prizes well above charitable gaming law limits.

Indian gaming moved off of Indian lands and smack dab in the middle of an urban area in 1986 thanks to one enterprising Indian tribe. The Fond du Lac Chippewa tribe developed an interesting relationship with the city of Duluth, Minnesota, in which both parties reached an agreement to transform an abandoned downtown department store into a bingo parlor. This agreement cleared the path for other tribes to enter agreements with local governments, and it cleared the path for Indian tribes to offer other forms of gaming and gambling.

Casino Gaming Takes Off in Minnesota

By 1992, Minnesota’s 11 tribes operated 14 casinos, which featured over 9,000 video gaming machines and blackjack tables with up to $500 in prize limits. In 1992, the total revenue from Indian casinos and gaming was estimated to be at least $1 billion, and casino employment reached nearly 6,000 across the state. To date, Minnesota’s 11 tribes added four additional casinos, for a total of 18 casinos and gaming operations across the state. Minnesota’s Indian gaming industry is often described as “the largest casino gaming center between Nevada and New Jersey.”

Minnesota’s Indian gaming industry has created over 40,000 jobs for residents across the state and has an economic impact of$2.75 billion each year, which not only benefits Indian tribes but the entire state of Minnesota.

Initially, Minnesota lawmakers never believed that gaming and gambling would prove to be such a profitable venture for it’s Indian tribes. Over the years, several attempts have been made by the state to cash in on a piece of the Indian gaming and gambling pie, but each attempt has failed to date. The compact agreements the eleven Indian tribes made with the state in the 1980s essentially gave the tribes a monopoly on casino gaming and gambling, making it virtually impossible for other gaming and gambling operations.

Although Minnesota was the first state in the country to reach a gaming and gambling agreement with it’s Indian tribes, the agreement did not set a good example. The compacts the 11 tribes signed with the Minnesota legislature does not provide a cut of Indian casino and gaming profits for the state. Furthermore, the compacts do not contain an expiration date, and they cannot be modified without the permission of the 11 Indian tribes. Each year the 11 tribes donate millions of dollars toward intense lobbying to barr competition to their casinos.

Mike Scofield

CEO & Casino Expert

Mike Scofield is a casino expert and the CEO of Online-Casinos.co.uk. Before establishing the company, Mike worked in the marketing department of several land-based and online casinos.

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