Sports Tipboards Now Legal in MN

by Tom Barrett, Director MN Gambling Control Board  

The United States Supreme court recently ruled in favor of permitting all states the opportunity to allow sports wagering. It will be the decision of each state to consider what forms of sports wagering will be allowed. A form of sports wagering, known as sports-themed tipboards, has been allowed by law in Minnesota since 2012 (Minnesota Statutes, Section 349.12, subdivision 34). However, because federal law restricted wagering on the outcome of sporting events, the Minnesota Gambling Control Board held off on approving any sports-themed tipboard games until the Court decided.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided in favor of legalized sports betting in all states, sports-themed tipboards can move forward in Minnesota. BUT…. the only current legal form of sports tipboards in Minnesota is allowed under charitable gambling and the Minnesota Gambling Control Board. Any other form of sports wagering or sports tipboards is still illegal at this time.

The Minnesota Gambling Control Board is working with licensed game manufacturers to establish game standards for the sports-themed tipboards. There are primarily two forms of such a game: 1) a game which features a grid for players to register and has “seals” that hide the numbers that relate to the score of a game; and 2) a game with sealed tickets (“tips”) that hide the score combination. (Other game formats are being reviewed, too.)

The Board is working within existing laws and rules pertaining to “tipboards” – a current form of legal charitable gambling – for the immediate launch of the sports-themed tipboards and will be working to modify the rules to allow other variations of the sports-themed tipboards as allowed under Minnesota law.

What This Means for On-Sale Liquor Establishments

Only sports-themed tipboards approved by the Gambling Control Board and offered through charitable gambling sites will be allowed for sale. Any other form of sports wagering would still be considered illegal (we expect to see additional clarification from our counterparts at the Department of Public Safety, Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division, in the coming months).

In light of this new allowance, we expect to see charitable gambling representatives working closely with bar owners to establish this form of gaming. We also expect to see increased enforcement and monitoring for illegal sports wagering, so if your establishment is interested in sports-themed tipboards, connect with your local charity. The Board is hopeful of having the new sports-themed tipboards available for sale very soon.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Sports-Themed Tipboards

The Board is already receiving many questions about sports-themed tipboard games. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked:

Q. What is a sports-themed tipboard?
A. A sports-themed tipboard is a tipboard game based on the outcome of a professional (not amateur or college) sporting event. There will be variations on how the games are structured, but all winning chances will be based on the score of a game.

Q. Are sports-themed tipboards legal in Minnesota?
A. Yes. In 2012, a law was passed in Minnesota to allow sports-themed tipboards to be sold only by licensed charitable organizations under the regulatory control of the Gambling Control Board. While the Board already has the authority to approve sports-themed tipboards, only sports-themed tipboard games that meet current rules will be considered for immediate approval. The Board is working on rules clarifying the manufacturing standards that will cover additional sports-themed tipboard games.

Q. What does a sports-themed tipboard game look like?
A. Sports-themed tipboards will be very similar to other tipboard games; the only difference is the winning numbers (tickets or chances on a sign-up grid) will be determined by the actual score of a professional sporting event.

Q. How much does a tipboard ticket or chance cost?
A. The maximum price per chance is $10. There is no minimum.

Q. Do all chances on the tipboard have to be sold prior to the start of an event?
A. There can be unsold chances on a tipboard. Sellers must void any unsold chances immediately prior to revealing the seals. If the winner is not sold, the licensed organization keeps the proceeds.

Q. Do we still have to fill out prize receipts?
A. Yes. Prize receipts are required to be filled out for prizes of $100 or more. Each prize is considered a “win” for prize receipt purposes. Some examples:

  • If an individual wins a $100 prize at halftime of a professional football game, and the same individual wins another $100 based on the final outcome of the game, the winner must fill out two prize receipts forms—one for each win.
  • If an individual wins a $50 prize at halftime, and the same individual wins another $50 at the end of the 3rd quarter, even though the individual won $100 in total, he or she need not fill out a prize receipt form.

Q. Do winners have to be present to win?
A. No, players need not be present to win.

Q. Where may sports-themed tipboards be conducted?
A. Sports-themed tipboards may only be conducted through licensed charities at lawful gambling premises. Any other method of conducting sports-themed tipboards is illegal.

Q. What is the maximum payout?
A. The maximum ideal payout is 85%. However, if there are unsold squares or tickets, the actual payout may be higher than 85%.

Q. How does my organization get a sports-themed tipboard game?
A. Sports-themed tipboard games must be purchased from a licensed distributor. The licensed organization conducting gambling at your premises must contact a distributor sales person in order to purchase these games.

Q. How long do players have to claim a prize?
A. Payment of prizes is usually covered under House Rules. The Board is working to establish guidance on House Rules for sports-themed tipboards. A reasonable amount of time must be allowed for a player to claim a prize, and the current proposal is to allow seven days after the end of the professional sporting event to claim a prize. After that period, the prize value will be retained by the charity.

Q. Who do I call if I have other questions?
A. Contact a Gambling Control Board compliance specialist with questions regarding the actual conduct of these games at 651-539-1900. The Board will also try to make information available on our website mn.gov/gbc and in other formats.

Remember, the Board will only be considering games that conform to existing rules (sign-up chances on grids with seals). Other forms of sports-themed tipboard games—for example games with tickets—will be addressed in the upcoming rules.