Early 2020 Launch for Michigan Sports Betting?

If one state lawmaker has his way, folks in Michigan will have a lot more to look forward to on Super Bowl weekend. Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Kalamazoo) has been pushing for the state to join the others which have legalized sports betting in the wake of last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling.

He has found support in the state legislature. Bills have been advanced, but former Gov. Bill Snyder (R) struck them down with a veto. Snyder’s time in office is up. Gretchen Whitmer (D) was sworn in this past January. Iden is holding out hope that efforts to legalize sports betting will intensify. 

As the Detroit Free Press reports, Iden recently explained to the House Regulatory Committee that the state will continue to lose revenue it can claim as its own if action isn’t taken. 

“My goal is to have this up and running by the Super Bowl. Casinos are moving forward because they know it’s going to come to fruition at some point,” he said. “If we don’t do this, we will continue to lose consumers to other states, just like you lost me to Indiana last weekend.”

The bill calls for an 8% tax on sports betting, which would generate between $8.7 million to $11.2 million in tax revenues. That’s based on a sport betting market in Michigan, both in the casinos and online, of up to $225 million.

Last year’s ruling by the High Court essentially placed the matter of sports betting legalization in the hands of the individual states. Several states acted quickly and had sports betting up and running before 2018 came to a close. It has been more of the same in 2019. Additional states have climbed on board, and several more are inching that way. 

Iden is hoping that Michigan will be up to bat before too long, but there are still a number of issues to iron out. More from Freep:

The online gambling and fantasy sports betting bills are also currently in committee, but stalled because Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said the 8% tax rate is too low. The administration opposes the sports betting bill for the same reason, noting that 15% is a better place to land.

"I haven't talked with the administration since before the summer break and they proposed 15%, plus the additional 3.25% for the city of Detroit," Iden said. "That's an astronomical rate which just will not work — that number has to be somewhere closer to 9% or 9.5%."

The tax rates in other states that have legalized sports betting range from a low of 6.75% in Nevada to 51% in Rhode Island. If Michigan stuck with a 8% rate, it would be the second-lowest rate behind Nevada. In other nearby states, Indiana has a 9.5% tax rate while Illinois will have a 30% tax rate when sports betting takes effect early next year.

For now, Michigan residents are out of luck when it comes to betting on sports legally. While there is no guarantee that Iden’s efforts will be successful, the fact that the matter is still being actively discussed is an encouraging sign. 

In the meantime, the legal sports betting industry across the United States continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. That’s not going to change, but perhaps Michigan lawmakers will be further inspired to act as additional neighboring states move forward on legalization efforts.

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