Nearly all of the gambling bill passed in the final hours of the Michigan lame-duck legislative session deals with casinos and internet gaming.
A single line tucked into the internet gaming section of House Bill 4926, though, is of particular interest to sports bettors. Could this be the sentence that legalizes Michigan sports betting?
The division may permit internet gaming operators licensed by the division to accept internet wagers under this act on any amateur or professional sporting event or contest.
The division referenced would be a newly created state entity overseeing all internet gaming, under the oversight of the Michigan Gaming Control Board. This would be who issues licenses for mobile or online platforms, which appear to account for all Michigan sports betting.
To be clear, the bill gives regulators the power to create a sports betting licensing structure, but they are not required to do so. The MGCB still could wait for legislators to pass more comprehensive sports betting legislation in 2019.
Still one last hurdle to clear
First introduced by Rep. Brandt Iden in September 2017 and first passed by the House this summer, the Michigan sports betting bill only picked up significant momentum on the lame-duck session’s final day.
An amended version of H4926 sailed through the Senate on a 33-5 vote before kicking back over to the House. At nearly 3:30 a.m. local time, the House passed the same version of the bill by a 71-35 margin.
The bill still must receive the signature of outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder. Indications point to Snyder approving the bill, but that is not a certainty at this point.
Not the only bill dealing with Michigan sports betting
A companion bill from Iden, House Bill 5881, also addresses a number of gaming-related matters. This bill, which passed the House in the wee hours by a 90-17 vote, establishes a couple of provisions related to sports betting:
Except as otherwise provided in Subsection (15), and in lieu of the taxes and fees otherwise imposed in this act, a wagering tax of 8% is imposed on the adjusted gross receipts received by a casino licensee from sports betting or internet gaming and no other tax or fee may be imposed by agreement or otherwise on a casino licensee by this state or a political subdivision of this state for sports betting or internet gaming.
Tax rate for Michigan sports betting, iGaming
As passed, the bills set up a tax structure favorable to commercial casinos for internet gaming. They would pay a total of 9.25 percent tax on gross gaming revenue — a base of 8 percent and additional 1.25 percent from Detroit casinos to the state.
With nearly 10 million residents, Michigan is one of the 10 most populous states in the country. With that tax setup, it could become quickly a major market for legal sports betting.
Tribal licensees would be exempt from the extra 1.25 percent. Tribes would be allowed to apply for sports betting under commercial licensing rules. They also would be exempt from the extra payment.
More details about the overall bill
Here’s just a snippet:
Regulators would be authorized to issue internet gaming licenses to any commercial or tribal casino in the state, with applications costing $100,000 apiece. If approved, licenses run $200,000 for the first year and $100,000 annually thereafter.
The bill also delays launch for 15 months from passage, pushing legal sports betting in Michigan into 2020.