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Michigan Senate passes sports betting, only one hurdle remains


After today’s vote, the legislation for Michigan sports betting sees the finish line, and there’s only one hurdle left before it becomes law.

By a vote of 35-3 today, the Senate passed the sports betting bill to legalize in-person, online, and mobile sportsbooks.

“I’m of the belief that providing a legal, safe and regulated option that actually brings money to the state is a good thing,” said Democratic Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., who’s recent negotiations with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proved to be Christmas Miracle for the state’s sports betting hopefuls.

Wednesday’s floor vote comes just one day after getting unanimous approval in the Regulatory Reform Committee and on the last day of the 2019 legislative session.

The bill package, which also includes the legalization of online gambling, Internet poker, and daily fantasy sports, received concurrence from the House of Representatives, which it initially passed in October. House re-approval is required after the Senate made changes to the legislation.

With today’s passage in the Michigan Legislature, the bill now heads to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk. If that hurdle is cleared, then Michigan will become the 20th state to legalize sports betting.

And all signs point toward the governor signing off on the legislation sometime next week.

After the legislation left committee on Tuesday, Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany Brown said, “the governor’s top priority when getting this done was to protect the School Aid Fund,” and that intends to review the pack with her office staff once more before signing it into law.

“The governor is pleased with the progress made on gaming over the course of this year, particularly once Sen. Hertel and Rep. Warren were able to engage and resolve key issues to get this package across the finish line,” Brown said. “This is a good, bipartisan solution made possible by working together on a complex issue, and the governor looks forward to closely reviewing this package once it hits her desk.”

When asked when the sportsbook will be ready to accept wagers, Hertel said he’s optimistic that the regulations and licensing process will wrap up before betting begins on the college basketball tournament.

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

Michigan sports betting details

In its current form, the sports betting legislation resembles what other states have passed following the repeal of PASPA in May 2018. Here is a brief overview of what to expect when sportsbooks launch in Michigan:

Minimum age: 21 years old

Launch date: TBD

Regulators: Michigan Gaming Control Board

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

Betting rules: What types of bets are allowed or prohibited is TBD. 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.

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