Hanging On: Michigan Sports Betting Bills Ready For Some Action

Posted on June 24, 2019

The summer of 2019 is quickly approaching and with it the run-up to another NFL season. Fans in states like Michigan are considering wagers on their favorite teams. The fate of Michigan sports betting is tenuous right now.

A possibility exists that fans in the Wolverine State will be able to place bets through legal channels. Bills to regulate Michigan sports betting could see action soon.

That of sports betting in Michigan

Three bills — SB186HB4311, and HB4307 — have been introduced in the state Senate and House respectively. Different sponsors introduced all three bills on March 7.

The Senate committee on regulatory reform received SB186 immediately. The House Ways and Means committee received HB4311 on March 12.

The same committee received HB4307 on March 19. Currently, there are no hearings or votes scheduled on any of the bills.

The Legislature seems most likely to enact HB4307. HB4307 strongly resembles an earlier bill passed by the Legislature but vetoed by then-Gov. Rick Snyder.

Current Gov. Gretchen Whitmer may sign HB4307 if passed by the Legislature. In its current form, she opposes it, however.

MI Sports betting under HB4307

The bill legalizes sports betting. Land-based and mobile options would be available.

The state’s 26 casinos, both commercial and tribal, could purchase licenses to operate sportsbooks. Online-only operators like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook would be eligible as well.

The bill would create a state division of sports betting and sports betting fund. The tax rate would be 8%. The cost for a license would be $200,000 and renewable each year at a cost of $100,000.

Unlike some other states, betting on college sports would be legal.

It’s likely that books would take action on the University of Michigan and Michigan State University football and men’s basketball games as soon as they are up and running.

Where would the money go?

Sports betting revenue gets split up four ways in HB4307.

The sports betting fund would receive 55% of the fees and taxes, although a million dollars annually would divert to a compulsive gambling prevention fund.

Another 30% would go to the city in which the operator is located for development.

The remaining 10% would divide equally between the Michigan Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund and the Michigan Transportation Fund.

Tweaks to this framework are possible before the final version is approved, however. That’s especially true given Whitmer’s unhappiness with the tax structure.

When might HB4307 become law?

Brandt wants to push HB4307 as part of a larger package of gambling bills sometime this month.

Rep. Brandt Iden will need to pacify Whitmer in order to get her signature. She worries that the state’s education funds could suffer because of the revenue online sports betting might take from the state’s iLottery program.

In order to reach Whitmer’s desk, however, Brandt’s bill would also need support in the state Senate.

Given the fact that both chambers of the Legislature already passed a sports betting bill last year that resembled HB4307, the biggest obstacle remains Whitmer’s reservations.

It’s possible that sports betting could be legal in Michigan in time for the next Detroit Lions and Michigan Wolverines football seasons.

If that is the case, expect online operators like DraftKings and FanDuel along with all 26 casinos to be available to Michigan residents.

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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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