Sports Betting Takes a Big Step Forward in Michigan
On Tuesday, June 12th, the State House voted 68-40 in favor of the online gambling bill (H 4926), which aims to make sports betting legal in the state of Michigan. The approval means that the bill will move on to the Senate, but won’t be heard until September. Unfortunately for sports bettors and casinos in Michigan, lawmakers are taking the summer off. So, there will be no sports betting before the NFL season begins. But, don’t let their summer break overshadow the exciting news.
Michigan’s Current Gambling Landscape
Currently, Michigan does not allow online gaming or sports betting. However, it does allow other gambling activities within the state’s three commercial casinos located in Detroit: Greektown Casino, MCMG Grand, and Motor City Casino. Additionally, the state also has 23 tribal casinos that offer gambling activities, and two race tracks. All of these venues are expected to apply for sports betting licenses if the State Legislature passes bill H 4926. The tribal casinos will have to create a new compact with the state in order to be authorized to allow online gaming and sports betting.
A Brief History of H 4926
This bill was first introduced to the state in September of 2017, by Rep. Brandt Iden. Unfortunately, the bill really went nowhere last fall and barely registered a blip on the State House earlier this year. However, when the United States Supreme Court overturned PASPA on May 14th, 2018, every state in the Union decided to reexamine their existing sports betting laws and embark on a legal journey to create a new sports betting framework. Michigan is a perfect example of this process. Prior to SCOTUS overturning PASPA, the state basically ignored any sports betting bills. Once PASPA was overturned, the previously ignored H 4926 bill became top priority.
Tuesday’s session was the last opportunity that any bill had to move forward prior to the previously mentioned 10-week summer break. So, you can see how some lawmakers were desperately trying to get some traction on this right away.
What’s Inside H 4926?
The bill’s main objective is to legalize online gaming, poker and possibly sports betting. Certain language and sports betting taxes still have to be worked out, but there’s some wiggle room for this bill to include sports betting. Rep. Iden made the following comments on how bill H 4926 lays the groundwork for legalized sports betting in Michigan, according to the Detroit Free Press:
“The Michigan gaming commission is looking for the Legislature to take the initial step and we have to set up the tax rate for sports betting. And we took the first step toward that today. When we come back in the fall, this is going to be at the top of the agenda. Michigan should be at the forefront of that.”
We do know that this bill clearly lays out the following terms, according to CasinoNewsDaily.com:
- All online gambling equipment has to be located at the state’s gaming facility.
- You will have to be at least 21 years or older to gamble online.
- Online gambling entities will have to pay an 8% revenue tax.
- The 3 Detroit Casinos will get 55% of online tax revenue.
- An Internet Gaming Fund will get 35% of the online gambling tax revenue.
- The school aid and transportation funds will split the remaining 10% of the online tax revenue.
Like Rep. Iden said, Michigan should be at the forefront of the sports betting movement in America. They can accomplish this task by approving bill H 4926 and becoming one of the first handful of states to legalize sports betting. As for now, Iden and other lawmakers will have more time over the summer to tweak the bill if necessary and publicly push for this landmark legislation.