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Legal Sports Report

Man The Wall: Michigan Sports Betting Legislation Is Coming (Again)

Michigan sports betting

Promises of a Michigan sports betting bill have carried on about as long as warnings that winter is coming. Now that winter has come in Game of Thrones, sports betting legislation may finally be on the way to the Water Winter Wonderland.

Rep. Brandt Iden tells Legal Sports Report he reached a consensus with industry stakeholders on language for a bill and plans to introduce comprehensive Michigan sports betting legislation by the end of May.

“I’ve been working with stakeholders behind the scenes to make sure we get the language right,” Iden said. “My plan is to introduce that bill and hopefully have it catch up to the rest of the package.”

Michigan sports betting bill delays

In the final days of 2018, Iden pledged that MI sports betting would be his legislative priority in 2019.

However, sports betting was left out when he introduced his package of gambling bills in March. Iden explained:

“The casino industry, leagues and other stakeholders didn’t feel it was ready for primetime yet, so I didn’t introduce it.”

Iden’s iGaming bill does include a clause giving the Division of Internet Gaming the option to permit licensed operators to accept internet wagers on sports.

Sports wagering playing catch-up

Iden’s bill to authorize online poker and casino gambling ran into opposition last week in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

An executive from the State Budget Office indicated that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer opposes the bill for the same reasons given by her predecessor for vetoing the legislation last year. The administration is concerned that iGaming will lower revenue to the state and School Aid Fund by taking dollars from the higher-taxed iLottery.

As the gaming package faces delays while Iden works on appeasing the governor’s concerns, he expects the sports betting bill to finish being drafted by the Legislative Services Bureau, move swiftly through the House Regulatory Reform Committee, and meet up with the rest of the package in Ways and Means.

“My intention is to put all the bills up for a vote in June,” Iden said. “I’m going to keep driving at getting it done before summer break.”

Matthew Kredell
- Matthew started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News, where he covered the NFL, Kobe-Shaq three-peat, Pete Carroll’s USC football teams, USC basketball, pro tennis, Kings hockey and fulfilled his childhood dream of sitting in the Dodgers’ dugout. His reporting on efforts to legalize sports betting began in 2010, when Playboy Magazine flew him to Prague to hang out with online sportsbook pioneer Calvin Ayre and show how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting expansion of regulated sports betting across the country. A USC journalism alum, Matt also has written on a variety of topics for Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.
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