Michigan Sports Betting Bills Move Forward Without Support From Governor

The state of Michigan is moving forward with gambling bills through the House Ways and Means Committee. Now, these bills will be on their way to the House of Representatives and could possibly get a vote later this week.

This would end up being the first successful vote for Michigan in this session, although sports betting was introduced as a future consideration in the iGaming bill that was vetoed by the Governor last year. Before passing H 4916 by a vote of 10-1, committee chairman Rep. Brandt Iden gave the bill a different tone and set of language.

The newer version of the bill increased the tax rate to 8.75 percent, with a total of 12 percent for commercial casinos and another 3.25 percent in Detroit. In addition, the use of official league data was offered on “commercially reasonable terms.”

The updated version of the bill also adds specific language that would have mobile betting standing on its own if pushed through successfully – the iGaming legislation does not have that offshoot.

Iden has been quite influential in the battle to get sports betting finally legalized in the state of Michigan. He has worked very hard to get the bill going that would appease the commercial casinos, Indian tribes and professional sports teams within the state.

“This substitute, really, I think helps to bring all the stakeholders that participated in the conversation on board,” Iden said. “We had a lot of in-depth discussions as it related to the rules and regulations and how sports betting was going to be outlined in the state. We obviously know other states are ahead of us as it related to this issue. Indiana and Illinois have already moved forward. Ohio is quickly on our heels.”

Not On Board

While it seems like everyone is in favor of legalized sports betting in Michigan, the governor of the state is not. Governor Gretchen Whitmer had previously been in favor of a bill that was asking for 15 percent of the tax rate on sports betting, with licensing fees going up to $1 million.

The Michigan State Budget Office and two public educational associations in the state had motions that were against the sports betting bills. That lone vote came from minority vice chair Rep. Rebekah Warren, who has been a previous supporter.

“We’re getting ever so much closer to having a package of bills that meet all of those objectives: can get the majority vote that’s needed, the supermajority vote when it’s needed and get the administration to sign off with Gov. Whitmer’s signature,” Warren said. “Unfortunately, there are a couple of pieces of this package that are not quite ready yet. … Please hear me saying the goal is to get ‘yes,’ we are just not ‘yes’ today.”

There has been plenty of frustration on Iden’s end, considering that Whitmer’s administration has done a poor job of communications between the two sides.

“As much as it pains me to say, the governor’s office has not put in that time up to this point,” said Rep. Jim Lilly. “While I think we’re still interested in finding a landing spot, you have to be willing to be part of the conversation if you want to be part of the end outcome.”

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