Conspicuously missing from the package of gambling-related bills introduced by Rep. Brandt Iden last week was one for Michigan sports betting.
Entering the year, Iden said comprehensive sports betting legislation would be his priority in 2019.
Three months into the year, Iden tells Legal Sports Report that he decided not to introduce sports betting with the rest of the package because he is still working through the details with stakeholders.
“I believe it could still potentially be forthcoming but a few things need to be worked through,” Iden said. “The casino industry, leagues and other stakeholders didn’t feel it was ready for primetime yet, so I didn’t introduce it.”
Stakeholders, legislature want MI sports betting
Iden didn’t want to get into the sticking points in negotiations with stakeholders at this time.
What’s important, he contended, is that all stakeholders are at the table and Michigan sports betting is a priority.
“This is a key conversation in the Michigan legislature right now,” Iden said. “In bipartisan fashion, my colleagues want to see it come to fruition. It’s just about working with stakeholders to get it done.
“As with iGaming, it takes time. It takes conversations and meetings. I don’t get ahead of anybody. I want to make sure everyone is on the same page, and that’s what helped us have the success we did before.”
Sports betting retains spot in iGaming bill
If the details for comprehensive Michigan sports betting legislation can’t be agreed upon this year, there is another option for legal sports betting to take hold.
In reintroducing his Lawful Internet Gaming Act that the former governor vetoed last year, Iden once again included one sentence to give the Division of Internet Gaming this option:
“permit internet gaming operators licensed by the division to accept internet wagers under this act on any amateur or professional sporting event or contest.”
Prior to the veto, Iden told LSR that it could be possible under that language for the division to permit online sports wagers without any further legislation.
Two years or bust
Iden pointed out that the iGaming bill took two and a half years to get to a floor vote. He doesn’t expect Michigan sports betting will take that long. Iden also doesn’t have that long in office, as he is termed out after 2020.
He added that the sports betting legislation would include man of the same components of the iGaming bill. That includes an 8 percent tax rate on gross revenue.
“The key focus is still going to be on consumer protection,” Iden said. “We know sports betting is going on in the marketplace and want to make sure that it is brought into the light.”