With the Michigan Senate passing overwhelmingly on Wednesday a package of measures authorizing sports betting and online gambling, the state is pretty much one signature away from becoming the latest to join the US athletic wagering frenzy.
The Lawful Sports Betting Act received broad support in the state Senate Wednesday afternoon, passing the chamber with a 35-3 vote.
The Act includes a package of bills that allow for the legalization of online sports betting, online gambling, and daily fantasy sports.
The measures were subjected to months of discussions and negotiations that saw state legislators try to address all concerns voiced by industry stakeholders and Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and find a sweet spot that would pave the way for the authorization of sports wagering in a state with substantial tribal gambling interests and would create a source of new revenue for Michigan’s School Aid Fund.
Michigan’s Sports Betting Legalization Effort
After passing the Senate, the sports betting and online gambling measures went back to the House for concurrence, and were passed by the lower chamber of the state Legislature, yet again with overwhelming support.
The bills now need to be sent to Gov. Whitmer for a final signature in order to be enacted. It is believed that the package of measures will be enrolled in the coming days.
Recent comments from Gov. Whitmer’s office have indicated that the state’s top official is willing to sign the sports betting act into law.
According to a statement from the Governor’s Press Secretary Tiffany Brown issued earlier this week,
“The governor is pleased with the progress made on gaming over the course of this year, particularly once Senator Hertel and Representative Warren were able to engage and resolve key issues to get this package across the finish line […] The governor’s top priority when getting this done was to protect the School Aid Fund, and Senator Hertel and Representative Warren helped make that happen and addressed a number of other concerns she had. This is a good, bipartisan solution made possible by working together on a complex issue, and the governor looks forward to closely reviewing this package once it hits her desk.”
The Governor’s Previous Issues
Michigan’s 2019 online gambling and sports betting legalization effort had a bumpy ride from the outset. Gov. Whitmer raised concerns that the authorization of online casino-style games and poker could cannibalize revenue and players from the state’s existing iLottery offering.
The majority of revenues generated from the sale of online lottery products go to Michigan’s School Aid Fund and Gov. Whitmer expressed concerns that the legalization of more gambling options could have a negative effect on the gambling money the state gets for schools.
She demanded that the Legislature come up with regulations and a taxing regime that would prevent any such feared negative impact.
The latest iteration of the sports betting and online gambling bills reduced the previously proposed betting tax rate to 8.4% from 8.75%, but increased dramatically the rates for online casino games and poker introduced in earlier versions of the measures.
If Gov. Whitmer signs the package of bills when they are presented to her, online gambling will be taxed at between 20% and 28% on revenue. Michigan’s top official has indicated that she is content with this latest tiered structure.
Michigan’s Gambling Expansion – What Will Be Legal?
The package of measures provides for the legalization of digital sports betting. The state’s three commercial and 23 tribal casinos will be able to conduct sports betting activities. Each betting license holder will be allowed one wagering skin only.
While the Lawful Sports Betting Act does not specifically legalize retail betting, lawmakers believe that they will be able to authorize wagering at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks next year without any significant issues.
The recently approved package of measures also authorizes online casino-style games and poker. Each license holder will be allowed to offer two skins – one for online poker and one for online casino.
Michigan is also set to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports as part of the larger gambling expansion push. Similarly to sports betting, that activity will too be taxed at 8.4%.
Source: Michigan Legislature Sends Sports Betting To Governor, SportsHandle
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