Legal Wagering On Politics ‘Not Under Consideration’ For Michigan Sportsbooks

Written By Matt Schoch on March 26, 2020
Politics betting President odds Michigan

For years, many Michigan residents waited for their chance to bet on sports legally.

When they finally got their chance earlier this month, the betting became available, but the sports disappeared soon after.

As one of the many sectors impacted by the spread of novel coronavirus, Detroit casinos will remain closed through at least April 13, per executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

But even when Michigan’s casinos do come back, it’s likely many major American sports leagues won’t yet be up and running.

So, what does one bet on?


Wagering on politics

There’s a movement in Las Vegas for sportsbooks to profit from the most contentious space of American life:

Politics, particularly this November’s presidential election. It’s a topic you can bet on through offshore websites, though no states have yet approved the chance to bet on President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden, or even your favorite wildcard candidate.

While Michigan Gaming Control Board spokeswoman Mary Kay Bean wrote in an email Wednesday that wagering on political races is not under consideration, oddsmakers in Nevada are considering a renewed push for it, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

PlayMichigan spoke Wednesday with an elected official from each side of the aisle, and one from each of the state’s legislative chambers.

Though there’s no push for it now in Michigan, both ultimately welcomed the chance for Michigan residents to bet on political elections.

“It’s not something I’ve ever thought of,” said state Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing). “But I take a fairly libertarian view when it comes to these things. So I wouldn’t personally have any opposition to do it, but I’m sure there are others who would have concerns.”

State Rep. Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills) said he’s heard of casual bets around Lansing about political races, but he hasn’t participated himself.

“If there’s interest from the public, it’s not anything I’m personally opposed to,” Webber said. “I probably wouldn’t necessarily do it myself, but we’ve just been so focused on the sports aspect, but there’s certainly other things (you could bet on).”


Michigan likely to add sports betting options

When sports resume and casinos reopen, Michigan residents can place bets on NFL football, NBA basketball, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Division I men’s and women’s NCAA basketball, Football Bowl Subdivision college football, golf (PGA, LPGA and European Tour), NASCAR, boxing (IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO), mixed martial arts (UFC and Bellator), Major League Soccer, and the Winter and Summer Olympic Games.

Additional sports will be considered moving forward, Bean wrote. Sports outside of the United States, including European soccer leagues, could be up and running before American sports, perhaps increasing the push to get those added to sportsbooks.

There’s also the forthcoming rules on online sports betting and casino games, which are expected to pass in early 2021.

“I would say the quicker, the better at this point because obviously while we’re all sheltered and staying at home, you could have some level of entertainment,” Hertel said.

All of Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos also closed, with Odawa Casinos announcing Tuesday that its Petoskey and Mackinaw City locations will remain closed through April 13, joining Gun Lake in Wayland on that timetable.

Many tribal casinos are exploring sports betting on their properties, with some anticipated openings this spring, though many of those plans could be altered by the shutdown.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the former host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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