[toc]A new bill in Michigan would create a challenge to federal sports betting law, if enacted.
A quick look at the Michigan sports betting bill
The legislation from Rep. Robert Kosowski would amend the state code to allow for sports betting, provided it is also approved by a referendum.
The bill is quite simple. It allows casino licensees to offer sports betting at their land-based gaming facilities:
SEC. 9E. (1) THE HOLDER OF A CASINO LICENSE MAY ACCEPT WAGERS ON SPORTING EVENTS.
(2) THE BOARD SHALL PROMULGATE RULES TO REGULATE THE CONDUCT OF SPORTS BETTING UNDER THIS ACT.
Here is what Kosowski had to say in 2016 at a committee hearing on his sports betting bill:
“There’s bookies everywhere. We all know that. So why not regulate it? Why not get some money for this?” he asked.
Michigan and gambling
Michigan has both tribal and commercial casinos, including MGM Grand Detroit. Presumably all of these casinos could — and would — take sports bets if allowed.
The state has eyed many types of gaming expansions in the recent past. It abruptly jumped into the discussion of online gambling in 2016 and may attempt to pass regulatory language this year.
The Michigan bill would challenge PASPA
The bill, if enacted into law, would be a direct affront to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. That federal law prohibits single-game sports wagering everywhere except for in Nevada.
If the bill is enacted by state’s voters, it would likely be instantly challenged in court by the NCAA and the major US professional sports leagues. Those are the entities that have blocked New Jersey from having legal sports betting within its borders via federal court. That state is appealing its case to the US Supreme Court.
Does the sports betting bill have a chance?
Kosowski is the Democratic whip in Michigan’s House of Representatives; his party is the minority in the state legislature. As noted above, his efforts on sports betting have fallen short in the past.
Additionally, this bill has a steep hill to climb, as it needs to get through both the legislature and a referendum of voters.
Still, there is growing interest in sports betting around the country. Casinos — notably the American Gaming Association — have been pushing the issue in the past year. And a growing number of states with regulated gambling hope to eventually capture sports betting revenue .
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