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Michigan legalizes sports betting, gives bettors an early Christmas present


Heading into the Holiday season, all Michigan bettors wanted for Christmas was legal sports betting.

And nearly one year after the Grinch stole the hope of placing bets in the state, residents can officially ’tis the sportsbooks to be jolly.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the Michigan sports betting bill—the Lawful Sports Betting Act—into law Friday morning, legalizing state-regulated sportsbooks for in-person wagering as well as via online and mobile apps.

In addition to sports betting in Michigan, the governor’s signature also legalized Internet casino gambling, online poker, and daily fantasy sports contests as part of the iGaming bill package.

According to state Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., who lands at the top of the nice list for delivering a Christmas miracle during negotiations, the goal is for MI sportsbooks to launch in time to accept bets on the NCAA basketball tournament.

“My hope is that by March Madness, it will be live,” Hertel said earlier this month.

The entire package didn’t face much opposition in either chamber of the Michigan Legislature throughout the year.

However, several lawmakers doubted whether a compromise could be reached with the governor on a few key issues, such as revenue taxation and whether public education funding would be negatively impacted.

After bill sponsor Rep. Brandt Iden couldn’t convince Whitmer to come to the negotiating table, he made some minor changes as chair of the Ways and Means Committee before sending it to House floor, where the package passed by a 63-45 vote at the end of October.

With the legislation now in the state Senate, Hertel knew he had to reach an agreement with Whitmer for sports betting—and the entire package—to have a shot at becoming law.

Hertel scheduled a meeting between lawmakers, the governor, and interested parties—including Michigan’s tribes after they backed the legislation—and all sides agreed to lower the tax on sportsbook revenue in exchange for a much larger fee on the Internet casino games and online poker.

With everyone on board the legalization express, the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee voted unanimously in favor of the iGaming package on December 10 and sent it to the floor.

A day later, the Michigan Senate approved the sports betting proposal by a vote of 35-3, sending it and the rest of the bills to the governor’s desk after receiving concurrence from the House.

Once Whitmer’s office reviewed the entire iGaming package this week, the governor signed the bills into law today. As a result, Michigan becomes the 20th state to legalize sports betting and the 14th to include online and mobile wagering.

In addition, Michigan becomes the ninth and final state to approve legal sports betting in 2019.

After former Gov. Rick Synder vetoed the 2018 iGaming package his last day in office, many feared throughout the year that it would be déjà vu for the state’s sports betting hopefuls.

Instead, Whitmer and lawmakers came together to bring licensed and regulated sportsbooks to the state, and bettors will be forever thankful for the early present under the Christmas tree.

For Michiganians and visitors traveling to the state for its sportsbooks, here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about legal sports betting in Michigan

Michigan sports betting details

Minimum age: 21 years old

Launch date: 2020 March Madness at the earliest

Regulators: Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB)

Legalized: Sports betting, daily fantasy sports (DFS), online casino gambling, and online poker

Sportsbooks: In-person (Detroit’s three commercial casinos, 23 tribal casinos), online, and mobile apps

Available sports: All professional and collegiate sporting events can receive action, including games involving in-state college teams

Bets allowed: Straight bets (point spread, money line, totals), futures, teasers, parlays, pools, exchange betting, in-play bets, prop bets, and others can be allowed after approved requests

Bet requirements: Official league data must be used for in-play betting, but operators can negotiation those terms with the MGCB

Licensing: $100,000 fee with $50,000 initially and $50,000 annually. Casinos may online have one Internet partner for sports betting.

Tax rate: 8.4% on gross revenue, an additional 1.25% for casinos in Detroit

Tax allocation: The majority of revenue is sent to the Michigan School Aid Fund, and $2 million annually is set aside for the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund.

Projected revenue: Between $175 million and $225 million for combined commercial and tribal casinos, according to first-year estimates

Projected taxes: Approximately $20 million in new tax revenue for the first year

Additional rules: MGCB will draft rules next year after receiving input from industry experts as well as commercial and tribal interests

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