Minnesota Real Money Online Gambling

While Minnesota may have been a conservative state towards gambling at one time, times have sure changed, even though the only official casino gambling is run by their Indian tribes. They have 21 casinos scattered throughout Minnesota, offering both slots and table games. The Minnesota Lottery now runs both land-based and online “pull tab” gaming, which is another word for slots. You can also gamble at other things in Minnesota online, as long as you know where to do it.

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Introduction to Online Gambling in Minnesota

Minnesota has spent most of its history in the dark ages as far as gambling goes, although they are catching up fast. The big wave came when the Indians became allowed to offer casinos on their own land regardless of how states felt about it, and Minnesota now has 21 Indian casinos they did not want, although the years are wearing away their opposition.

Minnesota still has some work to do in order to catch up to the more progressive states in the country. Ultimately, we need to more closely examine our inhibitions toward gambling and ask ourselves if they are of enough substance and concern to want us to disallow consensual commerce, and it is only when we understand that we need more than differing preferences to justify this that a government can see the light. Minnesota needs to open their drapes more.

While the state and their Indian tribes continue to turn their thumbs down to more gambling expansion in the state, we want to show you why this doesn’t matter and how you can exercise your liberty without threat of intrusion by the state of Minnesota.

History of Gambling in Minnesota

Minnesota Online Casinos and SlotsIn the early days of Minnesota’s history, there were no restrictions on gambling. Lotteries were the most popular form in the state back then, but were banned in 1857, although other forms were not prohibited at the time. Curiously enough, the next change in the law was to permit charity bingo in 1945, and this might seem like it took this law to legalize it, but it was already not illegal and this law merely sought to regulate it, to exercise control and impose limitations and requirements.

Two years later, in 1947, Minnesota passed another law, this time to ban instead of approve of a form of gambling, making slot machines illegal. Social gambling was approved in 1963, non-commercial wagering between persons directly. An attempt to create a state lottery failed in 1972, at a time where more avant-garde states started adding state lotteries, although Minnesota didn’t quite have the appetite for this sort of thing just yet as it turned out.

Up until 1978, charitable gambling was limited to just bingo, but they got permission to also use paddleboards and tip sheets as well as conducting raffles. 1981 saw the addition of pull-tabs being allowed to be sold by charities to the public. The cautious manner that Minnesota took with enabling charitable gambling speaks well of the relative reticence of the state towards gambling in general, a situation that persists today to a relative degree.

Pari-mutuel betting was a bigger deal and required a referendum to pass in 1982. Three years later, the state had its first pari-mutuel horse racing track, Canterbury Downs. Another referendum was held in 1988 which finally led to the birth of the Minnesota State Lottery. 60% of the profits go to the general fund, with 40% going to improving natural resources.

1989 was the year after the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which allowed for Indian tribes on federal land to offer casino gaming without the permission of the states that the tribes reside in. Minnesota signed a pact with the state’s Indian tribes, where they provided them the state’s consent to offer video gambling machines.

It seems though that Minnesota forgot to ban video gambling machines in the first place, as they fell outside the law banning slot machines which was written too narrowly, so in 1990 they decided to ban them outside reservations. 1991 saw Minnesota extend their tribal compact by permitting casino table games as well, although limited to card games, and there are currently 21 Indian casinos operating in Minnesota, the only casinos that have been allowed thus far.

Canterbury Downs shuddered under all this new competition, and were hoping that off-track betting would help them cope, which wasn’t made illegal at the time, but Minnesota continued its ad hoc approach by banning it in 1992. This caused the track to shut down, and the issue ended up going to a referendum in 1994, but was rejected by voters. This gives us some real insight into just how unfriendly Minnesotans were to gambling at the time, allowing betting on horses at the track but not elsewhere, and willing to risk the track perishing over this.

Local residents bought the track from British betting giant Ladbrokes in 1995 and re-opened it, and it’s been open ever since. The Minnesota legislature had a bit of a change of heart in 1999 when the renamed Canterbury Park was allowed to offer real money card games. They opened a card room the next year and offer the only casino type gambling off the reservation.

Minnesota voted down a bill to legalize daily fantasy sports, although someone needs to ask them why they think such a thing would be against the law in the first place under current Minnesota statutes. This isn’t just left out of the definition of illegal betting, it is even granted an exception even if it were included, as a bona fide contest of skill if there ever was one.

It was therefore no surprise that Minnesota is not one of the states that have or will soon be getting sports betting, although the pushback here was more from the Indians than the state, who fear that allowing them to offer sports betting may compete with their casino revenues.

Minnesota’s Indian casinos make quite a bit of money from their hotels and restaurants so it’s understandable that they might be concerned about online sports betting, but it doesn’t make sense for them to oppose offering this in their casinos. The bill was looking to approve both, the Indians don’t want either, but at some point they may realize that they should at least want people coming to their casinos to bet on sports, and at least take a closer look at how offering online sports betting may affect their bottom line.

Minnesota could just give this to Canterbury Park if they wanted, although fortunately for the Indians, they do not want at this time at least. That is on the table though, and Minnesota makes nothing on tribal gaming but does tax operations outside the reservations. Plan B is therefore much better for Minnesota once they get the stomach for this.

Minnesota Key Facts

  • Abbreviation: MN
  • State Motto: L’Étoile du Nord (The Star of the North)
  • Capital City: Saint Paul
  • Largest City: Minneapolis
  • Population Estimate: 5.63 Million (22nd)
  • Website: mn.gov

Minnesota Gambling Laws

It is against the law to “bet” in Minnesota, but as is normally the case, laws do not depend on common usage of terms like this and set out the type of betting that is disallowed. Minnesota is one of several states that seem to have wanted to ban all betting on contingent events but failed to do so based upon the nature of their exceptions to their definition.

“Bet” is defined in Minnesota gambling law as “a bargain whereby the parties mutually agree to a gain or loss by one or the other of specified money, property, or benefit dependent upon chance although the chance is accompanied by some element of skill.”

Provided that an activity is prohibited by this definition, it then may be excluded by a provided list of exceptions. Minnesota excludes contracts of indemnity, which makes sense as these are agreements that are subject to be settled by outcomes that may at least depend on what we normally consider to be chance, such as the winds blowing a certain way and driving a wildfire toward your home.

The next exclusion deals with exempting securities transactions, which clearly do not contain elements of chance, and therefore suggest that the authors of this law did not understand the meaning of chance, perhaps considering that all unknown events are due to chance. Securities trades involve no element of chance whatsoever though, as prices move purely by human agency, as sporting contests do, which Minnesota probably did not want to leave out of the definition of betting but clearly have.

They are definitely not the only state to make this error, and aren’t the only state that prohibit games of chance but also exclude bona fide contests of skill, which are by definition outside the realm of chance, with the results being determined by skill, as all sporting contests are. This exemption limits financial gain to participants, but there is nothing in this law that would place such a limit. If what is against the law does not include betting on contests of skill in the first place, there is no need to exempt these practices, and this bona fide skill exemption cannot limit betting on skill in general.

If we are told that it is legal to bet on games of skill, by way of the law itself, the fact that only participants in games of skill may be compensated adds nothing to the law. If you can do A and you can also do A if B is present, you don’t need the presence of B. By leaving out betting on contests of skill generally, this places this outside the scope of the law and does not prohibit sports betting, and may or may not exclude poker as well depending on how we interpret how a game of chance with an element of skill is to be understood.

It is important to understand that exceptions do not define inclusions. They do tell us that their definition of betting does not include these various situations, but this does not mean that the list is comprehensive as these are just examples of what may not fit the law, and only practically apply to situations where an activity would be otherwise betting if not for the exclusions.

The exemptions also include authorized bingo and social gambling, which would both be included otherwise, as well as pari-mutuel gambling and the Minnesota State Lottery. Betting on horses doesn’t involve chance either though, but it is explicitly allowed, and this express permission is necessary to set up regulatory bodies who do not take advantage of loopholes.

We are left with the situation of casino gambling being illegal unless otherwise authorized, sports betting being clearly left out with no uncertainty, and poker being somewhere in the middle, left to the interpretation of how much of a game of skill it is understood to be. Without a judicial precedent, this law lacks clear direction on how poker is to be understood as far as whether it is a game of chance accompanied by some skill, or primarily a game of skill accompanied by elements of chance.

The definition seems more directed towards casino games with some elements of skill such as blackjack or casino poker, rather than traditional poker which requires an element of skill to even bring in the element of chance, where one may never win a hand because they don’t have the skill to stay in any of them and just fold every hand. Poker does not even have to have an element of chance to decide hands and this at least makes it potentially distinct from what is considered a bet under Minnesota law.

If Minnesota intends to include poker and sports betting, making it a crime to wager on any contingent event would have shut out both, and every other sort of gambling as well, and prepared the way much better for their exemptions, which would then become an inclusive list of what is allowed.

Land-Based Gambling in Minnesota

The Minnesota State Lottery may have gotten off to a slow start, but they now have one of the hippest lotteries, with not only all the popular lottery games, but also operate electronic pull-tab machines and even offer pull-tabs online. It has generated $3 billion in revenue for the state since 1990.

While Minnesota has yet to approve a full-fledged non-tribal casino, their sole pari-mutuel track, Canterbury Park, not only offers betting on horses but has a card room as well. This has transformed a seasonal racetrack to a 24/7 gaming establishment, offering a variety of card games including cash poker, poker tournaments, blackjack, EZ baccarat, pai gow poker, three card poker, Mississippi stud, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, and more.

Minnesota also has 21 Indian casinos. Seven Clans Casino Red Lake offers 315 slots, along with blackjack and video keno, two restaurants, and a 40 room hotel. The Black Bear Casino Resort has 250 hotel rooms, 4 restaurants, an event center, a nightclub, 2,000 slots, 12 blackjack tables, a poker room, and a bingo room.

The Northern Lights Casino has 924 slots, 10 blackjack tables, a poker room, a 105 room hotel, 3 restaurants, and an event center. The Cedar Lake Casino and Hotel has a 100 room hotel, a restaurant, a food court, and a pub, along with 500 slots, 4 blackjack tables, and bingo. Shingobee on the Bay offers slots, bingo, and pull tabs, along with a bar and grill.

The Shooting Star Casino Bagley has 170 slot machines and a bar and grill. The Grand Portage Lodge and Casino has a 90 room hotel, 425 slots, and bingo. The Treasure Island Resort and Casino is the second largest hotel in Minnesota with 788 guest rooms, and has a pretty good sized casino to match, with 2,200 slots, 44 table games, a poker room, bingo, 10 restaurants, a 2,800 seat convention center, and an outdoor concert venue.

The Grand Casino Mille Lacs has 2 hotels on the property with a total room count of 573 rooms with 5 restaurants, 1,900 slot machines, 24 casino table games, a poker room, and a bingo hall. The White Oak Casino has 300 slots, 2 blackjack tables, and a bar. The Seven Clans Casino Thief River Falls has a 151 all-suites hotel, a 40,000 square foot indoor water park, 2 restaurants, 750 electronic gaming machines, 10 blackjack tables, and a poker room.

The Grand Casino Hinckley features 3 hotels with a total of 536 rooms, 4 restaurants, an RV park, 2,100 slots, 28 blackjack tables, a poker room, and a bingo parlor. The Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel has 2 hotels with a total of 392 rooms, 7 restaurants, a 160 seat sports bar, a 225 seat bingo hall, 1,250 slot machines, and 24 gaming tables.

The Seven Clans Casino Warroad has 60 guest rooms, a restaurant, an RV park, a marina, 480 slots, 4 blackjack tables, and a poker room. The Little Six Casino offers 800 slots, 8 blackjack tables, keno, and a restaurant. The Mystic Lake Casino Hotel is the only casino in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, with a 600 room hotel, 13 restaurants and bars, a 6,200 seat amphitheater, a 2,100 seat showroom, 4,000 slot machines, 100 blackjack tables, and a bingo hall.

The Fond-Du-Luth Casino hosts 750 slot machines along with 4 blackjack tables. The Fortune Bay Resort Casino houses a 115 room hotel, an RV park, 5 restaurants and bars, a golf course, 800 slots, 12 blackjack tables, 4 poker tables, and a bingo hall. The Player’s Edge Casino Hotel has 160 guest rooms, an RV park, 3 restaurants, 1,000 video slot machines, as well as blackjack and poker.

Minnesota’s Indian casinos are well spread out geographically throughout the state, and although they are limited to slots, blackjack, poker, and bingo, these are all very popular games, and together with lodging revenue, provide a big source of income for the state’s Indian tribes.

  • List of Land Based Casinos in Minnesota
    Black Bear Casino Resort1785 MN-210, Carlton, MN 55718218-878-2327
    Cedar Lakes Casino & Hotel6268 Upper Cass Frontage Rd NW, Cass Lake, MN 56633844-554-2646
    Fond-du-Luth Casino129 E Superior St, Duluth, MN 55802218-720-5100
    Fortune Bay Resort & Casino1430 Bois Forte Rd, Tower, MN 55790218-753-6400
    Grand Casino Hinckley777 Lady Luck Dr, Hinckley, MN 55037320-384-7771
    Grand Casino Mille Lacs777 Grand Ave, Onamia, MN 56359320-532-7777
    Grand Portage Casino70 Casino Dr, Grand Portage, MN 55605218-475-2401
    Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel39375 County Rd 24, Morton, MN 56270800-946-2274
    Little Six Casino2450 Sioux Trail NW, Prior Lake, MN 55372952-403-5525
    Mystic Lake Casino Hotel2400 Mystic Lake Blvd NW, Prior Lake, MN 55372800-262-7799
    Northern Lights Casino6800 Y Frontage Rd NW, Walker, MN 56484844-554-2646
    Prairie's Edge Casino Resort5616 Prairies Edge Ln, Granite Falls, MN 56241320-564-2121
    Seven Clans Casino10200 MN-89, Red Lake, MN 56671888-679-2501
    Seven Clans Casino, Thief River Falls20595 Center St E, Thief River Falls, MN 56701800-881-0712
    Seven Clans Casino34966 605th Ave, Warroad, MN 56763218-386-3381
    Shingobee on the Bay7114 Shingobee Rd NW, Walker, MN 56484218-547-6233
    Shooting Star Casino Bagley13325 340th Street, Bagley, MN 56621800-453-7827
    Treasure Island Resort & Casino5734 Sturgeon Lake Rd, Welch, MN 55089800-222-7077
    White Oak Casino45830 US-2, Deer River, MN 56636218-246-9600

Minnesota Online Casinos & Slots Gambling

Minnesota does have at least a semblance of online gambling, if you count the online pull tabs that the Minnesota State Lottery provides, although pull tabs, like all lottery games, have a high house edge and aren’t exactly a substitute for those who wish a genuine gambling experience, the sort of thing that can be enjoyed at some of the world’s best casinos on the internet.

Online sports betting is off the table right now, even though it does have at least some support among Minnesota legislators, but the Indian casinos that would be given the ability to roll this out and profit from it have strongly declined the opportunity. It is true that some gamblers may not visit them and choose to substitute sports betting for travelling to their casinos and spend on their hotels and other amenities, but anyone vaguely familiar with the popularity of sports betting will understand that any losses would be dwarfed by the gains that online sports betting would bring them.

It would seem that the Indians have been given some bad advice here, including not considering the fact that Minnesotans already can bet on sports online all they wish, with the Indians seeking to provide competition to the offshore sports betting sites that already serve sports bettors in Minnesota. Not that it matters, but there isn’t any law against betting on sports in Minnesota, being purely a game of skill and left out of Minnesota’s gambling laws, and even if there were, there’s no way that such a law could be enforced anyway, and there are lots of offshore sites that do not turn away this business like the Indians have chosen to.

If they are snubbing their noses at online sports betting due to concerns of it competing with its land-based casino gambling, they surely would be even more opposed to real money online casino and poker gaming, not that the state of Minnesota is willing to even consider such a thing at this time.

Times change though, and should the view of the state on this change, which it almost certainly will at some point, the state may simply look elsewhere, especially since they stand to benefit directly if they can get over their penchant for wishing to pass gambling off on the Indians so substantially, gaming that the state does not even tax.

The way that Minnesota gaming law is written actually leaves open the question of whether online gambling in any form would be illegal in the state. We’ve already spoken about sports betting being left out and it being at least questionable whether land-based poker would be against the law or not, but since the law refers to a mutual agreement among parties, the fact that only one of the parties is located in Minnesota and that the mutual agreement may be understood to occur outside the state at least serves to cloud the applicability of this law to real money online gambling.

This is actually a bigger question than it may appear. There’s no question that Minnesota does not have any jurisdiction over a Minnesotan gambling at a Vegas casino, like they would have if the gambling occurred at a land-based casino in Minnesota, but do they have jurisdiction over a Minnesotan gambling in another country online? We could just say that it is legal to gamble in Antigua and that’s where we are doing our gambling, with their being the jurisdiction of record in the same way that it would be if we travelled there physically instead of virtually.

This turns out to only be a debate in theory though, as from a practical perspective, it wouldn’t matter if the law explicitly banned online gambling as this wouldn’t make any difference and can just be ignored without potential legal consequences. We can call this illegal, but we need to go deeper and ask what illegal means here, and ultimately, it cashes out to acting in opposition of the will of the state with their having no real recourse.

In practice, there are several great sites that offer Minnesotans the ability to gamble at all of the popular real money online gambling games, including the real money online sports betting that Minnesota has said no to, in addition to real money online casino games, real money poker, keno, pull tabs, bingo, and whatever else people want to play. All you need is an expert guide. Allow us to be your guide.

Other state guides
Future of Gambling in Minnesota

With 22 land-based real money gambling venues available to Minnesotans, spread out across the state in such a way to have one fairly close by no matter where in the state that you live, residents of Minnesota are in a pretty good situation compared to many states who may have just a few casinos, or in some cases, none at all.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 2008 did give Indian tribes the right to offer casino gambling on their tribal lands, but not exclusive rights to this, and that is only the case where states have been too reticent to allow it when they do have the ability to decide. The list of states deciding to allow non-tribal casinos is already significant and is growing, and it may just be a matter of time before the Indians face competition from the biggest names in the industry who can build some pretty big and nice casinos if they set their mind to it.

The Twin Cities area is the biggest prize here, and it’s likely that the Indians can keep the other areas in the state less populated to themselves, at least mostly, but all Minnesota needs to do is get over what is preventing them from allowing this and things will align against the Indians, given that the state makes nothing from their gambling businesses, where they can make plenty with the non-tribal ones.

This includes rolling out online gambling to non-tribal operators. Even though this is already widely available now in Minnesota, a lot of gamblers aren’t aware of this, and Minnesota regulated real money online gambling in all 3 major forms, sports betting, casino, and poker, will surely expand online gambling in the state very significantly, as domestic online gambling regulation always does.

Now that you are in the know as far as what you can actually play online right now in Minnesota, which already includes all three types of real money online gambling, if you are not already among those who aren’t already enjoying some of the best online gambling the world has to offer, it then becomes just a matter of deciding to do it.

Those who are either unaware or confused about the state of real money online gambling in Minnesota perhaps have a good excuse, but when you become awake and realize that no one is stopping you but you, you are at least aware of what stands in your way, and it is not Minnesota’s reluctance to regulate this. Should the state of Minnesota choose to join the party, that’s great, but the party is going on right now without them, and we are here to help you party if you wish.

Minnesota Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
  • How has the view of gambling progressed in Minnesota over time?

    Minnesota used to allow lotteries at a time when they were all the rage, but when they went out of fashion as the country entered a dark period where gambling was concerned, Minnesota put an end to them as well. Once gambling started to come back in style, Minnesota did ease up on their misgivings, but at a slower rate than some other states and in a manner that has the view still on the conservative side despite all the gambling they have now.

  • Why is Minnesota now considered to have more conservative leanings toward gambling?

    Even though Minnesota may look pretty progressive on the outside, with even a non-tribal casino of sorts offering even more selection than the tribal casinos do as far as the card games that both roll out, this has been the limits to how far they wish to go now. Expanding the number of non-tribal casinos and especially the will to proceed with state regulated real money online gambling is not even on the horizon right now.

  • What does Minnesota gambling law prohibit?

    Minnesota law prohibits betting on games of chance or games that substantially rely on chance. This certainly would include playing live casino games, and it may also include playing real money live poker, although that is left up in the air due to the wording of the law. They forgot to write in anything dealing with games of skill, which poker may be understood to be but something betting on sports definitely is.

  • Does Minnesota law ban online gambling specifically?

    States don’t usually bother writing in specific provisions against online gambling because it should not be necessary. The state of Washington is an exception but gambling was already illegal and online gambling is part of the subset of all gambling. Minnesota presumably tried to ban all gambling but did not do a very good job of it. There was not the need to prohibit real money online gambling specifically although they didn’t do so well prohibiting gambling generally.

  • Is it illegal to gamble online in Minnesota?

    Minnesota law does not prohibit betting on things that do not involve the element of chance in the results of the bet, and sporting contests are a matter of skill, as is betting on them. Whether playing poker or not is against the law generally is a matter of dispute, although casino games are included in the scope of the law. However, the law as written at least calls into question the fact that any online gambling is illegal in the state, not that it matters anyway.

  • If it is illegal to wager on certain games online in Minnesota, what are the repercussions?

    The law derives its power from the ability to enforce it. If you jaywalk and there is no one around to see it or any cameras to capture it, there’s no chance of enforcement here, so this simply becomes a personal choice. Enforcing online gambling law is just like trying to catch you jaywalking without having the chance to view it, and they are down to hoping that you will obey as a matter of principle or intimidation.

  • Does Minnesota allow charitable and social gambling?

    Minnesota started allowing charitable gambling in 1945, the first legal gambling that they allowed in almost a century. Minnesota only originally trusted them with bingo, and this was the case for a couple of decades until they relented and allowed raffles as well. Social gambling, gambling between players directly without any third party interests, eventually became legalized as well and is currently legal to engage in.

  • What other land-based gambling options can Minnesotans enjoy?

    The Minnesota State Lottery offers a full range of lottery games, including online scratch tickets now. The state also has a pari-mutuel horse race track that features a full-time card room offering both casino card games, cash poker, and poker tournaments. There are also 21 Indian casinos that operate in Minnesota of various sizes, offering both slots, casino card games, and poker.

  • Why do Minnesota casinos only allow slots and cards?

    For some inexplicable reason, Minnesota has a peculiar preference for games that use cards over other gambling devices such as dice and wheels. While they might want to keep out Wheel of Fortune games which have infamously high house edges, roulette is nothing like this, and craps offer the lowest house edge of any casino game. There’s plenty of fun to be had though just using decks of cards.

  • When might we expect sports betting and real money online gambling in Minnesota?

    Having sports betting and real money online gambling in Minnesota and having Minnesota provide this are two very different things. Minnesota is in no hurry to authorize any of this, but this should not be seen as any sort of prerequisite for Minnesotans to gamble online all they wish. It is not in fact, and should people wish to engage in their favorite online betting games right now, we will show you the best sites to do this at.


Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.