Testimony of Ryan E. Hamilton, Minnesota Catholic Conference Government Relations Associate
H.F. 778 (Stephenson) Online Sports Gambling
House Commerce Finance and Policy
March 8, 2022
*Begin watching at 30:40
Chair Stephenson and Members of the Committee:
My name is Ryan Hamilton, Government Relations Associate for the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota.
We oppose the anytime, anywhere gambling that H.F. 778 would bring to Minnesota.
This bill goes way too far. It caters to entertainment whims of a privileged few while exposing Minnesota’s youth to unprecedented access and exposure to gambling.
Games of chance are not in themselves morally unacceptable. Gambling becomes morally unacceptable when it is offered in such a way that proliferates cycles of exploitation and deprivation.
And that is exactly what online sports betting does.
We aren’t talking about bingo, or a friendly wager amongst friends, or even charitable gaming.
Commercialized sports gambling—particularly when available through one’s smart phone—is like an addictive drug that harms lives, families, and the common good.
The entire effort to legalize online sports gambling is setting Minnesota up to lose.
For some, Sports betting can be an alluring path to the onset, or maintenance of, gambling problems. The National Council on Problem Gambling reports that sports bettors is at least twice as likely to develop a gambling problem as gamblers in general. When sports gambling is conducted online, the rate of problems is even higher.
Research shows that gambling is especially addictive for young gamblers who are attracted to the instant gratification and allure of easy money. The University of Minnesota estimates that 10 percent of its students are already problem gamblers and reports that college students are two to three times more likely to develop problem gambling than older adults.
H.F. 778 would effectively make Minnesota the land of anytime, anywhere gambling by putting a bookie in every living room, dorm room, and high school senior’s pocket. This bill would make Minnesota the odds-on favorite in a race to the bottom. It should not pass out of this committee. Please vote NO.