Will Eight Be Enough? Another Michigan Sports Betting Bill Introduced

Written By Matthew Kredell on September 11, 2019
Michigan sports betting

While some states made sure to launch regulated sports betting by the start of the NFL season, Michigan managed to beat the opening kickoff in introducing a bill.

Rep. Brandt Iden finally submitted his long-awaited legislation Wednesday, about six months later than planned.

Iden held Michigan sports betting back when introducing his iGaming package in March because stakeholders weren’t satisfied with the bill. Michigan has three commercial casinos in Detroit and 26 Indian casinos operated by 12 tribes around the state.

Now Iden has the industry on board but, just as with the online gambling bills, the governor is a potential roadblock.

Minor changes in Michigan sports betting bill

The eighth and final draft of the Michigan sports betting act is nearly identical to the seventh draft that Iden provided Legal Sports Report in July, leaving out a few repetitive words and unnecessary definitions.

Highlights include:

  • Limits operators to one online sports betting platform (an earlier draft allowed three skins per operator).
  • Fees of $200,000 for a sports betting license (renewable annually for $100,000$50,000 for a skins license and $5,000 for a supplier.
  • A tax rate of 8% on adjusted gross sports betting receipts.
    • Adjusted gross sports betting receipts exclude excise tax payments made to the federal government.
  • The Division of Sports Betting must finalize rules within one year of bill enactment.
  • Sports governing bodies can request to prohibit wagers by event or type.
  • The regulator determines whether official league data is necessary and appropriate to decide the results of in-play wagers.
  • $1 million to compulsive gaming prevention fund annually.
  • Act takes effect 90 days after enacted into law.

MI sports betting tax rate the key issue

Iden later hoped to introduce the Michigan sports betting bill in May and pass it out of the House along with the iGaming package before the legislature went on summer break.

That’s when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer derailed the efforts by supporting a Treasury Department proposal for high tax rates and fees.

Iden’s proposed 8% tax rate is about half of the 15% asked for by the governor. The $200,000 initial licensing fee is one-fifth of the $1 million the governor wants from the commercial casinos and largest tribal casinos.

Iden told LSR in July that the MI sports betting tax rate and fees need to stay low for the industry to be competitive, But there might be room to come up a little to appease the governor.

“There just isn’t a tremendous amount of revenue in sports betting,” Iden said. “It’s important that we keep that low and the administration needs to understand that, for it to be successful, it has got to be low.”

Sports betting gets first committee hearing

H 4916 got a brief hearing Tuesday in the House Regulatory Reform Committee.

Iden told a story of crossing the border into Michigan City, Ind., this past weekend to place legal sports wagers in Indiana, where regulated sports betting began just in time for football season.

There was no vote on the bill, and committee chairman Rep. Michael Webber indicated that the Michigan State Budget Office is opposed to the bill.

However, Iden tells LSR that the bill will advance from Regulatory Reform on Tuesday to reach his Ways and Means Committee, where he plans to amend the bill.

OK, maybe eight won’t be enough.

Iden eyeing budget inclusion

Iden added that he submitted the bill at this time to attempt to negotiate Michigan sports betting into a contentious budget discussion.

Michigan is working on finalizing a state budget by the Oct. 1 deadline.

The Republican leadership of both legislative chambers and the Democratic governor are embroiled in a disagreement over funding the budget and infrastructure plan.

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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 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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