Michigan iGaming Could Be Key To Legal Sports Betting In The State

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on March 18, 2019 - Last Updated on December 7, 2023

Experts anticipated Michigan would be one of the first Midwest states to adopt sports betting, but according to the states top gaming lawmaker, there is still work to be done.

On Monday, Rep. Brandt Iden told Legal Sports Report, details are still being tweaked, and all necessary stakeholders are at the table trying to make sports betting a priority.

Here is what Iden had to say:

“I believe it could still potentially be forthcoming, but a few things need to be worked through. The casino industry, leagues, and other stakeholders didn’t feel it was ready for primetime yet so I didn’t introduce it. In bipartisan fashion, my colleagues want to see it come to fruition. It’s just working with stakeholders to get it done.”

Could iGaming be the key to Michigan sports betting?

Late last year, Iden’s crown jewel, the Lawful Internet Gaming Act (H 4311), was vetoed at the eleventh hour by former Gov. Rick Snyder. The bill would have allowed the state’s commercial and tribal casinos to offer online gambling, with initial licenses costing $200,000.

Having reintroduced the bill, Iden slipped in a sentence that could be the key to sports betting legalization.

The sentence gives the Division of Internet Gaming the power to:

“permit internet gaming operators licensed by the division to accept internet wagers under this act on any amateur or professional sporting event or contest.”

With new Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in office and a companion bill introduced by Sen. Curtis Hertel (S 186) with the same lone sentence, it could be enough to legalize MI sports betting.

Everything takes time

Iden has been on a two-year crusade to legalize iGaming and knows the complexities of Michigan Legislature.

“As with iGaming, it takes time,” Iden told LSR. “It takes conversations and meeting. I don’t get ahead of anybody. I want to make sure everyone is on the same page, and that’s what helped us have the success we did before.”

However, his efforts to pass a comprehensive bill are running on fumes. Iden’s term as an MI representative come to an end in 2020 due to strict term limits.

There is also word of a separate sports betting bill that would carry the same 8 percent tax rate on gross revenue, much like Iden’s iGaming bill.

“The key focus is still going to be on consumer protection,” he said. “We know sports betting is going on in the marketplace and want to make sure it is brought into the light.”

Currently, there are over 120 sports betting bills in 31 states. Michigan along with, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio is looking to become the first state to legalize sports betting. Talks have stalled in Iowa where a handful of sports betting bills missed their deadline for all proposed legislation to be reported out of committees in their chamber of origin.

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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick comes from West Texas where he graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in psychology. After a five-year stint in Chicago, where he wrote about local politics and graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, he moved to Washington, D.C. to write about issues related to gambling policy, sports betting and responsible gaming.

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