Minnesota Governor Pitches for Legal Sports Betting
By Paul
According to a report in The Mesabi Daily News (http://www.virginiamn.com) Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura is putting the case for legalization of sports betting in the state, as a way of making up a budget deficit.

Ventura argues that since people want to bet on sporting events, the state should legalize sports betting, thereby reducing illicit betting and boosting state revenues. 'It's my belief that it's going on anyways, so why not bring it above board and legalize it,' he said. 'Let them pay taxes and be licensed. Let them become legitimate businesses.'

Ventura is not alone in this view: Senators David Tomassoni and Phyllis Kahn both tried and failed to legalize sports betting recently, but may try again, according to Tomassoni. Tomassoni says the state’s approach to the issue should be based on pragmatism – facing a budget deficit, it makes sense to legalize (and therefore, tax) sports betting – which goes on regardless of the law. “It's as if we're turning our backs on this and saying it doesn't exist,' he said. 'We'll guess what -- it does.'

However, Frank Ball, director of the alcohol and gambling enforcement division of the Department of Public Safety, cautions that amending state legislation on sports betting would depend on the federal government’s attitude: 'We told the governor that if the state wants to legalize it, we'd have to challenge the feds,' Ball said. Sports betting is against federal law everywhere in the US except for Las Vegas.

Ball has other reservations about legalization, such as the threat of involvement by organized crime and the possibility of juvenile gambling. He also said that legalizing sports betting would not necessarily mean that bettors or bookies would pay tax: “…they would try to get around that.”

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