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Michigan Governor Signs Sports Betting Legislation

December 30, 2019

It's official. The state of Michigan can now include itself among the growing group that have stepped forward to legalize sports with passage of the state's new Lawful Sports Betting Act (House Bill 916). At the same time Governor Gretchen Whitmer was inking her name to the sports betting legislation, she also sign bills that will open the door to other gambling activities, including online casinos, online poker and daily fantasy sports.

Getting the bill through the state congress took a bit of doing. While there wasn't much opposition to the idea of opening the state up for sports betting, at issue was the tax revenue the state would be taking into the state's coffers.

Whitmer, who was always always in favor of gambling expansion for Michigan residents, favored a higher tax rate than state representatives were bringing to her desk for signature. Finally, bill sponsors were able to bring her down from the 15% tax she wanted to see to a 8.4% rate on adjusted gross sports betting receipts with an additional 1.25% charged to commercial casino operations only. The additional monies are earmarked for the revitalization of Detroit.

In the end, Gov. Whitmer seemed please with the final version of the bill as she stated to the press: "My top priority in signing this legislation was protecting and investing in the School Aid Fund, because our students deserve leaders who put their education first. Thanks in part to the hard work and leadership of Senator Hertel and Representative Warren, these bills will put more dollars in Michigan classrooms and increase funding for firefighters battling cancer. This is a real bipartisan win for our state.”

The Details

With the bill's passage, the state will open the door for the state's three commercial and 23 tribal casinos to apply for land based and online wagering licensing. The licensing process is expected to move quickly in hopes approved operators will be in position to start accepting sports wagers by the middle of March, which coincides with the NCAA's March Madness college basketball tournament.

The licensing fee structure stands as follows: $50,000 for application (nonrefundable); $100,000 for licensing; and $50,000 annual renewal. Each operator will be granted but one license and all in-play wagers being offered must provide official league data for bettors.

That likely closes out 2019 for sports betting advocates throughout the US with 9 states passing sports betting legislation during the year. That brings the overall total to 20 states.


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