HF2366, the bill making changes to charitable electronic gambling, was folded into the House Commerce, Energy and Finance Omnibus bill that was passed on the House floor yesterday. An amendment offered by Rep. Franke would have taken HF2366 out of the bill, but that was defeated on a 59 for, 74 against the amendment vote.
Last week the Senate approved their version of the Omnibus bill SF972. The Senate version did not include SF1863 and both Omnibus bills will now end up in a conference committee to iron out the differences and form one bill for final approval by both bodies.
The companion of HF2366, SF1863 sits in the State Policy, Finance and Elections committee chaired by Senator Kiffmeyer. The bill has not been heard in the Senate.
ACM is disappointed that this bill is making the progress that it has. It looks to us that this bill has been fast tracked without the normal vetting process. For eight years at the Capitol I have heard the term “peace in the valley”, which means that the legislators would like everyone involved in an issue to work out their differences before the legislature makes decisions. There has been no “peace in the valley” on this issue.
It became clear three years ago that tribal interests had concerns about what was being offered on charitable electronic gambling in sites in Minnesota. It has gotten to where we are today because they have not had any satisfaction in resolving their concerns. At any point in time the GCB, the administration or the legislature could have called for all parties to come together to try and resolve the issue. If they ever took place, Allied Charities was never asked to be part of any such discussions.
What would have been possible and is still possible is to call for a review of the progression of charitable electronic gambling from 2012 to 2021. It would then be possible to see if and when the GCB crossed a line in game approvals. If the GCB did cross a line, remedies could be decided on that would address the issue while working to keep collateral damage (hurting charities) to a minimum. To our knowledge none of this has been done.
Over the past several weeks I have not heard one person say that charities are at fault. In fact the opposite is true; everyone involved has gone out of their way to say that charities have had nothing to do with this issue. Yet, there was nothing in the House bill that would have helped lessen the blow to charities and what happened yesterday was that the House in effect said, “Charities this is not your fault, but we are going to hold you responsible”.
From the start of this I have shared that I do not believe that the intent of the bill was to harm charities. But, as the bill currently sits there is one winner and the rest of us, including charities, are losers. Relief for us can only come from the Minnesota legislature. I am asking the Minnesota legislature that if they are going to go ahead with this bill to also do what is right for the rest of us.
My message to the Senate will be to not do what a majority in the House has done. Rather, bring the parties together, look at the history of electronic gambling and make decisions that have taken the time to review the facts. If changes need to be made, do not hurt the charities in the process.