Michigan Governor Inks Gambling Expansion Bills Into Law

Posted on December 20, 2019

The dream of legal iGaming and sports betting prior to the end of the current legislative session in Michigan has come true. Friday morning brought with it the news that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed gambling expansion bills into law.

Although much work remains to be done before either product is live in the Wolverine State, the Lawful Sports Betting Act becoming law is a huge development. With it, Michigan becomes the 20th state to legalize sports betting. The bill brings with it regulation of daily fantasy sports as well.

Without Whitmer’s signature, none of the work ahead could take place. In addition to revenue for the state, the gambling expansion ahead will bring other benefits to the local economy.

Gambling expansion bills can boost Michigan economy

For Michigan’s three Detroit commercial casinos, its several tribal casinos, mobile sportsbook operators like DraftKings and FanDuel, online poker and slot operators, and many other companies, this is an early Christmas present. The same goes for many others in the Wolverine State too.

Opening a brick-and-mortar sportsbook means new jobs. Admittedly, however, the number of full-time, permanent positions created won’t turn any heads. It’s possible that the greater effect will be on the casinos’ utilization of local services.

The state has seen this already to a small degree. The MGM Grand has already built out its sportsbook, which not only employed construction companies but technology companies as well. Expect Greektown and Motorcity to do the same and very soon.

It’s crucial for the casinos to partner with locally-owned companies to maximize the local impact. Even out-of-state companies employ local workers though, therefore contributing to the local economy to a lesser degree.

Besides buildout and construction, more permanent needs will create more demand for workers. Those needs include beverage and food services, janitorial services, and security and technology maintenance. It’s also possible the casinos could farm out some marketing of their new sportsbooks.

That’s merely on the retail side of sports betting. Online sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel, while headquartered outside of the Wolverine State, need a local presence as well.

Why even online sportsbooks need boots on the ground

One of the greatest recurring expenses for online sportsbooks is promotion. These operators might buy ads on websites that Michiganders frequent, including local newspapers and other in-state publications.

Such companies don’t ignore more tangible forms of promotion either. Billboards, direct mail, radio and television are all mediums that online sportsbooks use for marketing.

Companies like DraftKings and FanDuel have to ensure they are in compliance with state laws to offer iGaming and sports betting. The best way to get that assurance is through people who are familiar with the state. That could translate into Michigan attorneys and IT companies getting new clients.

New regulated activities also mean new regulation compliance work for the state. Whether the state will make new hires or contract that out isn’t clear yet, but either way, it creates a new reason for the state to spend its resources on itself.

It’s unclear exactly when iGaming and sports betting will launch in the Wolverine State. What’s now certain, however, is that both of those things will happen eventually. With Whitmer’s signature on paper, both gaming products are now officially legal in Michigan. That was a huge hurdle that needed to be surpassed.

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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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