Online gambling is illegal in Minnesota. Minnesota’s laws expressly permit narrowly defined forms of gambling and general online gambling is not permissible under those laws. Outside of Minnesota’s laws permitting and regulating certain forms of gambling, making a bet is illegal whether it’s made online or offline.
Minnesota has defined a bet as “a bargain whereby the parties mutually agree to gain or loss by one to the other of specified money, property or benefit dependent upon chance although the chance is accompanied by some element of skill.” In other words, when winning or losing is based on a game largely of chance, it is illegal. In the same way Minnesota has defined what constitutes a bet, it has defined what is not a bet, and general online gambling is not included as an activity that is not considered a bet.
Minnesota does permit certain forms of lawful, regulated gambling. Lawful gambling ” is the operation, conduct, or sale of bingo, raffles, paddle wheels, tipboards, and pull-tabs.” The lawful gambling laws do not expressly allow or prohibit online play of those games. However, the laws that regulate those games expressly or implicitly require a physical element that makes online play impossible, counterproductive, inefficient or cumbersome.
Socially betting on certain card and dice games is legal if the value of card game prizes don’t exceed $200 per day and the value of dice game wagers and prizes are limited to food and beverages. Certain card games like Texas Hold ‘Em and board games requiring dice are legal, even if the prizes associated with them are nominal, because they are considered games of skill, not chance, which would otherwise make them illegal. However, given the legal limitations on these games, it wouldn’t be economical to invest the required time, money, and energy into playing online.
Betting on horse races is legal at the state’s physical race tracks licensed to operate in Minnesota. Off-track betting online is prohibited.
Minnesota’s lottery system is not considered gambling by the state, so it’s legal to purchase lottery tickets online through the state’s lottery website.
One of the most popular forms of online betting is sports betting. Minnesota’s gambling laws expressly prohibit sports bookmaking, and make no exception for sports books that exist online. Sports bookmaking is a crime if more than five bets, or offers to bet, are received, recorded or forwarded within a thirty-day period, and those bets total more than $2,500 on any one or more sporting events.