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Minnesota Online Poker & Gambling Laws

Minnesota PokerMinnesota has historically been a state that is slow in legalizing any gambling. The first legal form of gambling was introduced in 1945 with the legalization of bingo in the state. Since then there have been several legal gambling venues added to the legislation, but every one of these has come with a long hard battle to legalize it.

The main question of the minds of many gamblers today is Is it legal to play poker online? The answer to this question varies from state to state, but in most states there really isn’t an answer to the question. The laws are vague, and they don’t directly state gambling on the internet. This is the case in Minnesota.

Can Players From Minnesota Play Poker Online?

Yes! If you live in Minnesota, and you would like to play poker online then you should have no problems finding real money US poker sites ready for your action. In fact, all US facing poker sites accept players from Minnesota. The number of sites accepting players from the US was drastically reduced in 2011 when the federal government seized several domains, but there are plenty more sites still in existence.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Minnesota?

The legality of playing poker online in Minnesota is a grey area. There are some statutes in the Minnesota law that could pertain to playing poker online, but the laws do not specifically mention online gambling or online poker anywhere. We have a review of some of the Minnesota laws that could pertain to online gambling below:

  • Minnesota defines a bet 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. (Section 609.75)
  • The definition provided by Minnesota could include poker as a bet since some element of skill is included in the definition.
  • Social poker games seem to be legal under the definition of what is not a bet in Minnesota a private social bet not part of or incidental to organized, commercialized, or systematic gambling
  • Making a bet that is not legalized in Minnesota is punishable by a misdemeanor. (609.755)
  • Operating an illegal gambling operation in Minnesota is punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of not more than $3,000. (609.76) [1]

From our interpretation of the laws in Minnesota internet poker games may be illegal because they are not specifically legal. However, the laws tend to dole out punishments for the establishments that are operating the illegal games and not the person playing the games. We have found no instance in Minnesota where an individual has been charged with playing online poker.

With all of that being said, we are in no way experts on Minnesota law. We encourage you to review the laws of Minnesota and contact a lawyer in your area to discuss the legality of playing poker online.

Minnesota Gambling History

Minnesota drug their feet for years before legalizing any forms of gambling. It is apparent that gambling was a party of Minnesota’s history, but the first legalized gambling was in 1945. Nonprofit organizations were first allowed to offered bingo games in 1945. The led many bingo halls being opened around the state of Minnesota.

Slot machines were prevalent around the state of Minnesota following World War II. These slot machines were not exactly legal, but the government often turned a blind eye to them and allowed them to continue operating. The slot machine operation came to an abrupt stop after Luther Youngdahl was elected in 1946. He vowed to get rid of the slot machines throughout the state in his campaign. After he was elected governor, he passed legislation in 1947 that made the possession of gambling devices grounds to revoke the license of any business that possessed them. The slot machine business was quickly shut down by the establishments that offered them due to the fear that their establishments would be shut completely down.

Supporters of pari-mutuel betting on horse races tried to get legislation to allow the betting dated back to the 1960s. Throughout the years there were many pushes to legalize pari-mutuel betting. It almost passed in 1971, but yet again in failed by a few votes. In 1982, it was decided that the voters of Minnesota should decide if pari-mutuel betting should be allowed in their state. The voters approved the measure by an almost 2-to-1 margin. It was apparent that Minnesota was ready for more legal gambling venues.

The state legislature approved the state lottery in 1989. It was a long road to get the lottery approved in Minnesota. As with the pari-mutuel betting on horse races, there were many failed attempts to legalize a lottery.

The year 1989 also brought other legalized gambling options to the state of Minnesota. This is the year that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed. This enabled Indian tribes to build and manage casinos. Compacts were approved with 11 tribes so that they could build and operate casinos. Initially the casinos were only allowed to offer video gaming machines in addition to bingo, but over the years they were allowed to offer card games. [2]

Today, you will have no problem finding a legal gambling venue in the state of Minnesota. From casually playing the lottery to visiting a full blown casino, gamblers have many choices.

Legalized Gambling Options in Minnesota

Minnesota has come a long way from a state that seemed to be against all gambling in the early years. The state now offers a wide array of legal gambling. Bingo halls are available in almost every city. Casinos are spread around the state. Pari-mutuel betting on the horse races is widely accepted and available. The state lottery is also a legalized form of gambling. If you don’t want to be around a crowd, then you can legally have a game of poker at your house as long as you don’t charge a fee or take a rake from the poker game.

Will Minnesota Legalize Online Poker in the Future?

Historically Minnesota has been a state that is very slow to legalize any new gambling. However, since 1989 Minnesota has introduced a wide array of gambling options. We feel that it is unlikely that Minnesota will introduce legislation to legalize online gambling. However, we feel that if there is a federal mandate to regulate online poker Minnesota will adopt the legislation.

References:

  1. Jump up ^ Minnesota Gambling Laws
  2. Jump up ^ Minnesota Gambling History
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