Like many states, Minnesota hasn’t addressed online gambling in their
In the absence of this language, numerous off-shore gaming sites continue
operating in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
You won’t have any trouble finding an online casino, poker site or
sportsbook in this state, but does that mean you’re in the clear to play?
Let’s find out by looking at Minnesota’s gambling laws as well as the legal
precedent they’ve set on iGaming matters.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Minnesota?
The Gopher State doesn’t specifically address Internet gambling, but like
many states, they have vague language that could deem iGaming illegal.
Minnesota’s constitution defines a bet in Section 609.75 (Subd. 2) as
“A bet is a bargain whereby the parties mutually agree to a gain or loss by
one to the other of specified money, property or benefit dependent upon chance
although the chance is accompanied by some element of skill.”
This is a broad definition that can include any form of unlicensed gaming. We
assume this means that any bet offered or placed over the Internet is also
On the other hand, we’ve seen states with far stronger language against
online gambling. Louisiana, Oklahoma and Washington explicitly ban Internet
That said, we don’t view Minnesota as being overly concerned with online
gaming – especially when their criminal code doesn’t mention it.
Can I Get Arrested for Gambling Online in Minnesota?
We’ll preface this by saying that nobody has been arrested for online
gambling in Minnesota. This doesn’t mean that it’s totally impossible either.
Section 609.75 (Subd. 2) defines an illegal gambling device as follows:
“… is a contrivance which for a consideration affords the player an
opportunity to obtain something of value, other than free plays, automatically
from the machine or otherwise, the award of which is determined principally by
Again, this is broad language that could include any number of devices,
including smartphones, tablets or computers.
If Minnesota Police caught somebody gambling on a smartphone and wanted to
make case of it, they could use Section 609.75 (Subd. 2). But would they go this
The odds are highly unlikely that Minnesota would ever take such drastic
action. Furthermore, the lack of precedence in prosecuting online gamblers makes
us think they won’t start at any point in the future.
Still, be aware of the laws if you’re going to gamble online within state
Will Minnesota Legalize Online Gambling?
Minnesota is one of the least-active states when it comes to seeking Internet
gambling legislation. This doesn’t appear likely to change any time soon for
We haven’t seen one piece of pro-online gambling legislation discussed
With the exception of Iowa, Minnesota doesn’t have any neighbors that
are serious about regulating the activity.
They don’t have any commercial casinos to push the matter.
Beginning with the first point, Minnesota hasn’t seriously discussed legal
online casino games and poker. We assume that they will at some point, but that
could be years away.
Unlike states such as Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, they don’t
have neighboring states acting as iGaming influencers.
Minnesota also doesn’t have commercial casinos or racinos that’ll lobby for
online gaming. This has been key towards legalization efforts in Delaware,
Nevada and New Jersey.
It’s possible that the tribal casinos could lobby politicians to legalize
iGaming, but there’s been no news on this front either.
Odds are that Minnesota – like most states – will regulate Internet gambling
someday. However, they won’t be doing it any time soon.
Are Offshore Gaming Sites Safe?
With no legal Internet casinos or poker rooms, your only option for gambling
online in Minnesota is off-shore sites. Which brings us to the question of
whether or not these off-shore companies are safe.
The answer varies as you move from site to site.
The key to understand this is that off-shore gaming companies aren’t licensed
by the government. Instead, they’re licensed in the country or territory where
Common jurisdictions that serve Minnesota include:
Antigua & Barbuda
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Safe and unsafe off-shore operators can exist within any of these
jurisdictions. That’s why it’s so important do to your own research before
depositing anywhere (discussed next).
But the actual licensing jurisdiction can also have an impact on the site’s
reputation. Here are a couple of examples:
Costa Rica is one of the least-reputable licensing
jurisdictions around the world. In fact, iGaming operators need only meet
general business licensing requirements to operate here.
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Based in Mohawk territory in Montreal,
Quebec, the KGC has fairly strict licensing requirements and provides
oversight when necessary.
Again, these sites aren’t licensed anywhere in the U.S., so you can never
have 100% confidence. But choosing reputable sites in respected jurisdictions is
a good way to find quality offshore gaming.
How do I Choose an Online Gaming Site?
Here are steps you should take when looking for the best online casinos,
poker rooms and/or sportsbooks:
This point is obvious, but worth stressing. Look for
non-biased reviews to learn about all the important aspects regarding any
Google to find potential customer complaints on a
gaming site. You want to avoid any company that processes cash-outs slowly
and/or has poor customer service.
This may be covered in the reviews that you’re reading,
but you should still check out the games/sports lines section for yourself
to see if the variety meets your needs.
Bonus Terms & Conditions
Visit the site and look at their bonus terms.
After all, you don’t want to be stuck wagering ridiculous amounts of money
just to cash out your welcome/deposit bonus.
Some offshore sites may not have banking methods that
you can/want to use. This is why it’s important to check out the banking
How long has a gaming site been around? The longer they’ve
been open, the better because it indicates that the site has done well
enough to stick around.
Minnesota may not have commercial casinos, but they do have tribal casinos
thanks to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.
They feature 19 tribal gambling establishments, with most being located in
the northern part of the state.
The state’s largest casino is Mystic Lake, which has over 4,000 slot machines
and 100 table games. Treasure Island Resort & Casino is also sizeable, spanning
116,000 square feet and housing 2,400 gaming machines.
One problem for the state is that they don’t earn tax revenue off the
casinos. But Gov. Mark Dayton attempted to change this in 2011 while looking for
creative ways to cover U.S. Bank Stadium’s $975 million cost.
The White Earth Nation offered to pay for half the 66,665-seat stadium if
they could build a casino in downtown Minneapolis. From here, White Earth Nation
would’ve continued to pay the state 50% of their profits.
Many local tribes fought against the matter because they didn’t want to set
the precedent of sharing casino revenue with Minnesota.
Dayton and other politicians eventually abandoned the bill, opting instead to
legalize electronic pull-tab machines at bars. For this reason, you’ll see
numerous pull-tab games at bars across the state.
Charity Gambling: Legal
The Minnesota criminal code exempts charity gaming from illegal gambling.
Section 609.75 (Subd. 3-5) explains this as follows:
“A private social bet not part of or incidental to organized, commercialized,
or systematic gambling.”
Section 609.761 explains that approved charities can offer a number of card
games, including bridge, cribbage, euchre, gin, pinochle, Texas hold’em and
Stipulations behind Minnesota charity gaming include the following:
Individual player winnings can’t exceed $200 per event.
Social dice games can be held in adjoining rooms of a
The charitable group/building owner must donate the proceeds.
Minnesota doesn’t get any tax revenue from their casinos, but they at least
earn a significant amount from charity operations. In 2016, the Gopher State
earned over $285 in tax revenue from charity gaming.
This is why they allow charity operators to offer a large variety of games
like bingo, lotteries, pull-tabs, raffles and Vegas-style gaming.
Keep in mind that Vegas-style gaming doesn’t mean charities can hold casino
nights or functions where people play casino games like baccarat, blackjack,
craps and roulette.
The state Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement division noted this by stating, “State
Attorney General’s Office concludes that most casino night activities are
generally considered illegal gambling.”
Instead, people can participate in skill-based tournaments for darts, poker
and pool tournaments.
The Minnesota Lottery offers a large range of games, including All or
Nothing, Daily 3, Gopher 5, Hot Lotto, Lucky for Life, Mega Millions, Powerball,
Raffle and Print-N-Play. These games combine to earn over $500 million for the
The Land of 10,000 Lakes has poker rooms at tribal casinos and both
racetracks, including Running Aces and Canterbury Park. Charity organizations
are also allowed to offer poker tournaments, provided they meet the stipulations
The Minnesota Racing Commission oversees the state’s quarter and thoroughbred
racing industry. Minnesota has two active tracks in the Columbus-based Running
Aces and Shakopee-based Canterbury Park.
Social Gambling: Legal
Minnesota specifically exempts social gambling from illegal gaming. This
means that players can hold poker tournaments and other social gaming functions
as long as the host isn’t profiting in any way.
The latter means no taking rake from poker games, or selling food or alcohol
at a social function. Just like with charity gambling, Minnesota also applies a
prize cap of $200 per day to private gambling.
We’re unclear if bars can hold free poker tournaments. After all, they’d
technically be profiting off the increased customers who come to play.
Bars can allow social dice games as long as they don’t organize the game or
stipulate that players buy drinks/food from them. Also, players aren’t allowed
to bet cash, but rather food and drinks.
Accepted bar-based dice games include:
3 – 2 – 1
6 – 5 – 4
Gambling Venues in Minnesota
Minnesota may not have giant commercial casinos like other states, but they
do offer more than enough tribal casinos spread throughout the state.
This gives Minnesota residents and visitors access to a total of more than
21,000 gaming machines and almost 300 table games. You can make bets for as
little as one cent (slots) and as much as $1,000.
As mentioned earlier, Mystic Lake Casino (Prior Lake) and Treasure Island
Resort (Welch) are the state’s two largest casinos. They both offer thousands of
gaming machines, large hotels, and multiple amenities.
Based in Morton, Jackpot Junction is also a big casino with more than 1,600
gaming machines and 30 table games. Below you can find more info on these
casinos, as well as a few others in Minnesota.
1) Black Bear Casino Resort
1785 Minnesota 210, Cromwell, MN 55726
2) Canterbury Park and Card Casino
1100 Canterbury Rd S, Shakopee, MN 55379
3) Grand Casino Hinckley
777 Lady Luck Dr, Hinckley, MN 55037
4) Jackpot Junction Casino
39375 County Rd 24, Morton, MN 56270
5) Mystic Lake Casino Hotel
2400 Mystic Lake Blvd NW, Prior Lake, MN 55372
6) Northern Lights Casino – Leech Lake
6800 Y Frontage Rd NW, Walker, MN 56484
7) Palace Lake Casino & Hotel
16599 69th Ave NW, Cass Lake, MN 56633
8) Running Aces Casino & Racetrack
15201 Zurich St, Columbus, MN 55025
9) Seven Clans Red Lake Casino
10200 MN-89, Puposky, MN 56667
10) Shooting Star Casino Bagley
340th Street, Bagley, MN 56621
11) Treasure Island Casino
5734 Sturgeon Lake Rd, Welch, MN 55089
History of Gambling in Minnesota
Minnesota’s legal gambling history begins in the mid-1800s, when they banned
lotteries. The government didn’t approve any form of gambling until 1945, when
they legalized charity bingo.
This opened them up to what has today becoming a very successful charity
Other notable landmarks include voters legalizing pari-mutuel betting in 1982
and voters approving a lottery in 1988.
Below you can take a closer look at some legal gaming milestones in
Minnesota bans lotteries.
Charity bingo approved.
State Legislature bans slot machines.
Exemption added to state constitution for social gambling.
State lottery bill fails to pass.
Minnesota legalizes paddlewheels, raffles, and tip boards for charity groups.
State Legislature approves pull-tabs for charity purposes.
Voters pass pari-mutuel betting through referendum.
Minnesota Racing Commission opens.
Canterbury Downs opens.
Voter referendum legalizes lottery.
Minnesota signs pact with 7 Native-American tribes for video gambling.
State bans video gambling machines outside of tribal reservations.
Minnesota signs compact with tribes to allow blackjack and other table games.
Off-track horse betting banned.
Voter referendum rejects off-tracking wagering.
Canterbury Park approved to offer card games.
Voters approve poker tournaments at bars and restaurants.
Electronic pull-tab machines legalized.
Legislation passed to ban sale of online scratch tickets.
State Senate defeats daily fantasy sports bill.
Minnesota Gambling FAQs
Many players have questions about Minnesota’s online gaming market because
it’s a grey area.
We’ve covered some of these questions in the online gambling section, but
here are a few more common inquiries regarding Minnesota iGaming.
Are Daily Fantasy Sports Legal in Minnesota?
The Gopher State hasn’t done anything to block daily fantasy sports (DFS). In
fact, they’ve introduced legislative efforts to approve the activity.
The bills that have been introduced so far aren’t seeking a regulated market,
but rather clarification that DFS is a legal skill game.
The first bill died in the Senate Taxes Committee because it didn’t have
enough safeguards to prevent underage players.
State Rep. Tony Albright introduced another piece of legislation in 2017 that
included stronger safeguards. This legislation is still being reviewed at the
time of this writing.
In the meantime, DFS sites continue operating in Minnesota because there’s no
law that prevents them from doing so.
Has Minnesota Taken Legal Action against Online Gaming Sites?
No. Minnesota hasn’t taken any direct action against offshore casinos, poker
rooms, or sports betting sites.
But in 2009, the state Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division sent letters
to 11 ISPs attempting to block 200 offshore gaming sites. They eventually
dropped the request after the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming
Association iMEGA) launched a lawsuit.
With no legal action against offshore companies, these sites continue serving
Minnesota players. Their iGaming market will likely remain in a grey area until
either legislation or legal action happens.
Why did Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Try to Block Gaming Sites?
According to the MinnPost, the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division argued that all
Internet gambling is illegal. They made no distinction between games of skill
(poker) and chance when trying to block the sites.
They also cited the Wire Act of 1961, which allegedly bans interstate
gambling, but this was before 2011, when the U.S. Department of Justice ruled
that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting.
After Alcohol and Gambling withdraw their request, they indicated a desire to
continue trying to block gaming sites from Minnesotans. But no serious efforts
have arisen since 2009.
What’s Keeping Minnesota from Legalizing Online Gaming?
Only a handful of states have legalized and regulated iGaming, while a few
others are seriously considering the activity.
Minnesota doesn’t fall into this select group, meaning they won’t be among
the first states with regulated online gaming.
The problem is that most states just don’t see Internet gambling as a
priority right now.
This is especially the case for Minnesota, which doesn’t receive direct tax
revenue from its tribal casinos.
Plus, legalizing iGaming opens up more issues.
Regulated states have required that online gaming sites partner with
land-based casinos. Given that Minnesota wouldn’t see any/much revenue under
this model, they’re not overly concerned about the activity.
Minnesota features three important gaming regulatory bodies, including the
Gambling Control Board, Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement and the Lottery
commission. Here’s a closer look at each organization.
The Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement department monitors the state’s tribal
casinos, ensures fair gaming and takes larger actions if necessary. Regarding
the latter, this division once tried to block 200 offshore gaming sites under
grounds that they’re illegal.
The Minnesota Lottery runs 10 different games, and works to ensure that all
winners are properly compensated.
The Future & Your Views
Minnesota is yet another state that stands in middle ground with regard to
They haven’t made any serious efforts to legalize the activity, and no bills
are on the horizon either.
If the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement division had their way, Minnesota
would’ve blocked 200 gaming sites. This would’ve put them in line with Kentucky
and Maryland as one of the few states to take legal action in the iGaming
But it didn’t happen, and Minnesotans are still free to play at offshore
casino, poker and sports betting sites.
We don’t see the status quo changing any time soon. This is especially the
case with the 2011 U.S. Department of Justice opinion on the Wire Act.
The one area where Minnesota is making iGaming inlets is daily fantasy
sports. People can already play at DFS sites, and the state is discussing
legislation to ensure it’s completely legal.
Perhaps if the Gopher State goes through with this, they’ll begin warming up
to regulated online gambling.
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