From a lottery to horse racing to sports games, there are many situations in which Minnesota residents may engage in some sort of betting or chance-taking on making a financial profit. Understanding what is legal and what is not in this realm can be difficult. If the laws are not fully understood, it can be all too easy to cross a line even unintentionally and find oneself facing criminal charges.
According to the Minnesota Officer of the Revisor of Statutes, the state law considers a bet any deal in which one party agrees to either lose or gain some benefit, property or money to another party. A bet is expected to involve some element of chance although that does not negate the presence of some skill being involved as well.
Contests that include prizes, including cash purses, are not bets under state law. Neither are raffles, bingo games or the lottery. Legal contracts in which one party might be financially compensated for a loss or harm are also not considered bets.
While the state department of Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement explains that all betting is illegal in Minnesota, there are some exceptions to this. Perhaps one of the most common type of bet is what is called the private social bet. An friendly wager between colleagues on that weekend's football team or a casual card game at one person's home are examples of these. With a private social bet, there is no business profit to be had, no structure or organization to the activity and no advertisement made of the event.