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There’s a wrong way to make football season more exciting

Oct. 24, 2019

The snacks. The beer. The camaraderie. And that unmatchable boost of adrenaline when your team scores a touchdown. Yes, there are so many reasons to love football. And if you choose to make it a little more interesting by betting on the outcome, well, what’s the problem with that?

Minnesota Sports Squares cardThe problem is that sports betting is illegal in any business establishment in Minnesota – think bars and restaurants where you would watch the game. Any bar owner in Minnesota who runs or allows illegal gambling operations on their premises can face regulatory sanctions and fines. They can even have their license suspended or lose it altogether.

If you’re wondering exactly what constitutes a bet, remember that it has to satisfy three conditions:

  1. You, the bettor, are risking something of value (usually money).
  2. The outcome is based on chance.
  3. If the outcome is in your favor, you win a prize (again, usually money).

So what is legal?

As long as they’re run by charitable organizations, sports-themed football tipboards from a licensed charitable organization are legal. They’re licensed through the Gambling Control Board, but illegal tipboards are popular during football season. You’ll know a legal one because it features the Minnesota symbol. The proceeds from legal tipboards contribute to programs that benefit such populations as youth, seniors, veterans and wildlife.

Also, bars and other establishments can do drawings or giveaways, but not if you have to pay to participate.

A spontaneous wager at home, among friends – also known as a “private social bet” -- is legal. The idea is that it can’t be part of organized, commercialized or systemic gambling, and the owner of the house can’t drive any profit from the bet.

It’s also legal to bet on fantasy football, but only on your team. Betting on the performance of individual players is still against the law.

Let’s face it: Football is exciting enough without betting on it illegally. Just put on your team colors, ask for extra hot sauce on the wings you ordered, and have some fun.