Between liberal social laws, a high Native American population and those insane winters, it’s no surprise Minnesota is home to a large and successful casino industry. As of this writing, the Land of 10,000 Lakes plays host to 15 Native American-owned and -operated gaming halls.
An unofficial moratorium on expansion of gambling ruled over non-Native American-based gambling in Minnesota until 1997, when, interestingly enough, doors were open as legislators looked for ways to fund a new stadium for the Minnesota Twins. While proposals to use funds attained from then-nonexistent slot machines died in the state legislature, changes to certain other laws ultimately made licensing of casinos possible. In 1999, the Canterbury Park racetrack was allowed to open “non-banked” table games and further liberalization of betting games in Minnesota followed.
Minnesota appears to be ahead of the curve on expanding betting on sports, as the state’s legislators were among the first 10 or so to apply the predominance test to daily fantasy sports games and legislation regulating and taxing DFS providers is expected to be morphed into law in 2018. This will be fantastic, because then Vikings fans can take their suffering at another thrown away opportunity in a huge game by their team.
Betting in Minnesota
Even before becoming a state – a common theme among those incorporated in the 19th century – betting games were outlawed in Minnesota territory.
As is the case with several U.S. territories cum states, all forms of gambling were illegalized under territorial law years before admission to the Union. In 1851, gambling in Minnesota was outlawed; the first state constitution codified this into law as section 5 of Article XIII: “The legislature shall never authorize any lottery or the sale of lottery tickets.” Note that usage of “lottery” in the leagislation should be considered synonymous with “betting games.”
In 1945, charity bingo (OMG!) was decriminalized. And, as though to solidify the strictness of anti-gambling laws in Minnesota, then-governor Luther Youngdahl enacted into a law a full ban on possession of slot machines.
Interestingly, the 1945 law allowed the opening of full-on casinos in Minnesota about 45 years later. In ’84, the state legislature amended the old law and decriminalized possession of electronic slots and video poker. What sounds like a boon for betting games, however, loses some shine when further wording in the law made cash prizes from the games illegal. Great.
Meanwhile, “Indian bingo halls” in Minnesota were offering slots and video poker in addition to bingo – even before passage of the game-changing (so to speak) federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988. By the mid-2010s, 13 casinos offering all manner of betting games were open throughout Minnesota.
Football in Minnesota
You might believe that the history of Minnesota professional football is all about losing – certainly a justifiable conception held by many NFL fans. Why not? After all, the entire history of the Minnesota Vikings is a rollercoaster of underachieving teams, mediocrity and gut-punch losses timed well enough so as to destroy a new generation of fans every time. But NFLbets is here to tell you that the losing in Minnesota spans back well past the Vikings of Joe Kapp add Fran Tarkenton; maybe football in Minnesota is cursed altogether…
The first Minnesota city to be granted an NFL franchise was, naturally Minneapolis. Ownership of the local semipro team the Marines decided the team was ready for prime time and bought into the American Professional Football Association for the 1921 season. However, any notion of “homefield advantage” was laughable as NFL owners, in their infinite wisdom, decreed that Minneapolis could not host any games after November 1. Thus did the Marines play between just four and nine games per season through 1924, running up a cumulative record of 4-17-2; the Marines were folded before the ’25 season, but they’d be back…
As the Minneapolis team floundered, Duluth’s APFA/NFL franchise stayed competitive for a while. Playing under the tyranny of the same restricted schedule as Minneapolis, the Kelleys went 4-3 and 5-1 in their first two seasons, the latter good for just 4th (!) place in the single-division, 18-team league. (Hey, Minneapolis was 17th that year!)
Future Pro Football Hall of Famer Ernie Nevers joined the rechristened Dultuh Eskimos for the 1926 season. Like a few other teams, the city within the team name was nearly purely ornamental. The Eskimos won on opening day, then went 5-5-3 in the subsequent 13 away games. In ’27, a schedule of nine games saw the Eskimos get shut out five times and go 1-8. Economic viability, lack of attractiveness to players, yadda yadda yadda and the team was doomed. The Eskimos folded after the ’27 season.
But the Marines – now the Red Jackets – were back! Despite seeing what the all-away schedule did to franchises like Duluth, the new Red Jackets were forced o do likewise. The result: a cumulative mark of 2-16-1, two bottom-two finishes, a point differential of minus-275 (over -14 per game, a ton in the 1920s) and absolutely no fan base.
So that was it for pro football in Minnesota until 1961 when the NFL added the expansion Minnesota Vikings to the slate. We’re all familiar with the rest of the story, so let’s go over some of the more, likesay, interesting parts of this team’s history.
After six years of mostly sub-.500 finishes, the Vikings dispensed with head coach Norm Van Brocklin in favor of Bud Grant. Grant would help get his team into the playoffs 12 times, including a run of 10 playoff appearances in 11 seasons. It is, of course, during this run that the Minnesota Vikings appeared in four Super Bowls in eight years. Grant’s Vikings are not remembered for their competitiveness within the NFL/NFC during the 1970s, of course, but rather that 0-4 mark the team compiling, losing ’Bowls by an average score of 24-9.
The Vikings haven’t returned to a Super Bowl since the Oakland Raiders torched ’em in number XI, but as any Vikes fan’ll tell you, they’ve been close. Too close. Like following the 1987 season: After going just 8-7 In the slightly strike-shortened season, the Vikings were starting to look like a team of destiny – until Darrin Nelson couldn’t hold on to a touchdown catch with under a minute to play in the NFC championship game.
Or, how about in 1999 when, chasing the 15-1 ’98 season, Gary Anderson chose the fourth quarter of the NFC championship game to miss his first field goal of the year to send the game into OT as the Vikings offense shut down entirely. Or how about in 2009, when three TDs by Adrian Petersen weren’t enough in another OT championship game loss? Or even 2018 when, after a miracle win against the same Saints who’d beat them in ’09, the Vikings just simply didn’t show up for a drubbing by Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles?
From a betting perspective, NFLbets will tell you this: If the Vikings are in the NFC championship game in 2027 or ’28, wager against them. Heavily.
At least history is a little happier for college football in Minnesota. The University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers first played in 1882 and since 1896 (!) have been a member of the Big Ten conference, in all its various manifestations.
Though considered a national powerhouse as early as the first decade of the 1900s (the team went 24-0 between 1903 and ’05), the Gophers became one of the country’s most dominant teams in the 30s, winning five of their six championships between 1934 and ’41. Bernie Bierman was the head coach of these squads, which boasted not only “skill position” studs like backs Wilbur Moore and George Flanck, but some nine linemen who’d go on to play NFL ball.
The Gophers added one more title to their mantelpiece in 1960, though folks in Mississippi in particular are breaking out the asterisks for this one. These Golden Gophers went 8-1 during the regular season on the strength of an offensive line (See? It’s all about the OL) which featured three first-team All-Americans including guard Tom Brown, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting. Despite Mississippi’s 8-0-1 mark, the Gophers were voted #1 in the official poll – taken before the bowl games.
So what happened? Incensed, Mississippi took care of Rice in the Sugar Bowl, while Minnesota lost to no. 6 Washington in the Rose Bowl. Nevertheless, history records the Gophers as having taken their sixth (and, to date, last) national title for the 1960 season. So … we guess the Gophers are kinda the bizarre Vikings…?
Betting on Football in Minnesota
As in about a dozen states, legislators in Minnesota will base law regarding daily fantasy sports – rather a litmus test in the 2010s for full-on legalization of sports betting in the 20s – on the predominance test. As ABC News online puts it, “According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Minnesota follows a ‘predominance test’ in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. DFS legislation was introduced in the state.”
States such as Delaware and Indiana in which predominance testing has been done shows that playing DFS is indeed a skill game; Minnesota seems likely to follow suit, a move that would signal greater willingness to ultimately adopt more liberal laws regarding betting on football in Minnesota.