Michigan Senate passes sports betting bill

After a year of negotiations, Michigan has finally made progress on its sports betting legislation.

On Wednesday, Michigan’s Senate approved a bill that would bring legal and regulated sports betting to the state of Michigan.

The bill, titled HB 4916, passed the Senate with a vote of 35-3 and will now return to the Michigan House of Representatives where lawmakers will concur on the changes made to the legislation in the Senate.

Today (12 December 2019) is the final day of Michigan’s 2019 legislative session, which means this is the final day for lawmakers to approve the proposed sports betting legislation.

What’s covered in the bill?

HB 4916 was introduced by Representative Brandt Iden and would legalize online and land-based sports betting in the Wolverine State.

Under the bill, three of Michigan’s commercial casinos and the state’s 23 tribal casinos will be able to offer sports betting, pending licensure. Sports betting operators will also be restricted to using only one online sports betting platform.

Operators will be taxed 8.4% on adjusted gross sports betting receipts. The state’s commercial casinos will be required to pay an additional 1.25% city tax to Detroit which lawmakers say is essentially 3.25%. Any money that is given to customers as part of a free-play promotion or offer can be deducted from gross receipts before paying tax.

The bill mandates the use of official league data for in-play sports wagering unless sports betting operators can convince the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) that they are being charged an unreasonable price for the data.

An initial application to offer sports betting will cost $50,000 and a license will cost $100,000. Operators can renew their applications on an annual basis for $50,000.

Most of the state tax revenue will be allocated to the School Aid Fund while $2m will be given to the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund annually.  The First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund helps firefighters that are undergoing treatment for cancer.

It is also worth mentioning that the legislation contains a provision that allows the MGCB to enter into agreements with other states for multi-state sports betting if federal law allows it. Currently, federal law prohibits interstate sports betting.

What happens now?

Once the House approves the changes made to the legislation, it will then be sent to the Governor’s desk for final approval.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the bill into law next week. Once HB 4916 is signed into law, the state regulators will be able to begin the process of launching sports betting operations.

If Michigan’s Governor signs the bill into law, the Wolverine State will become the 19th state to legalize sports betting.

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