If Michigan’s Government Shuts Down, The Lottery Goes With It

Posted on September 28, 2019

The Michigan legislature has done nothing but work out a budget framework for the coming fiscal year since the fall session began. With just a few days to go before a deadline, a Michigan lottery shutdown is a real concern.

If Tuesday comes without a budget for the Wolverine State in place, many state government products and services could be suspended. The state’s lottery is among them.

Why a Michigan lottery shutdown is possible now

Simply put, if the state government shuts down, so does the lottery. The state government considers the lottery a nonessential function.

To avoid a shutdown, the state government must enact a budget bill by Oct. 1. That means both chambers of the Michigan Legislature plus Gov. Gretchen Whitmer must agree.

The governor and certain legislators have been at odds over things like education and road funding. If parties stick to their guns through Monday, Tuesday would bring a cessation of nonessential activities like the lottery.

A shutdown would affect more than just the scratch-off ticket sales at convenience stores. The online lottery in Michigan could be shuttered as well.

How a shutdown would affect the lottery in Michigan

While it could be very temporary, a shutdown would suspend all lottery activities in the state. Any retail locations would stop selling tickets and/or cashing out winning tickets.

In addition, Michigan’s online lottery would also suspend operations. Michiganders would be unable to play online lottery games or collect prizes. Lottery players wouldn’t be able to access their online accounts, either.

For however long the shutdown lasts, it would be as if there was no lottery in Michigan. The shutdown’s far-reaching effects might touch the gaming industry in the Wolverine State, as well.

How a government shutdown could affect gambling

Legislators like Rep. Brandt Iden have worked to expand gambling in Michigan, including legalizing sports betting. Those attempts have also sought to legalize online casino games.

Until the budget is addressed, however, any activity on that front is out of the question. No other legislative action on any other issue will be undertaken until there is a budget in place.

Because of that, it could be some time before Iden or a colleague in the Michigan Senate gets to work on gambling expansion. Every delay in the legislative process means a delay in rolling out legal sports betting and online gambling.

A government shutdown shouldn’t affect most of the operations at the commercial casinos in Detroit or tribal casinos in the state, however.

Why casinos in Michigan will operate the same regardless

While Lansing regulates commercial and tribal casinos in Michigan, those casinos are privately operated and owned. Their operations are not contingent on the state government functioning.

It’s possible that a shutdown might delay the state collecting its portion of gambling taxes, but those funds would still be due when activity in Lansing resumes at full speed. Don’t expect chances on the slots to improve because of a shutdown.

If Lansing comes up with a budget before Tuesday, the entire situation fades away. For those who enjoy playing the lottery in Michigan, that’s the best hope.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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