Rep. Brandt Iden today led the state Legislature’s final votes to approve important consumer protections and modernize Michigan’s gaming laws to incorporate sports betting and evolving technology.
The plan – headed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her expected signature – would benefit Michigan’s economy, create important revenue streams for K-12 schools and local governments, and protect the thousands of Michigan residents already gambling online.
Iden, of Kalamazoo County’s Oshtemo Township, has been leading reform efforts for three years.
“It’s been a long journey to move sports betting and casino-style gaming into a regulated, safe and modern environment – but the end is in sight, and with it a great opportunity for Michigan will begin,” Iden said. “First and foremost, our reforms will protect the thousands of Michigan residents already wagering online. They will be able to play on safe, regulated sites and use modern technology such as mobile apps.
“These reforms also will benefit Michigan’s economy and provide additional revenue for our schools and local communities – revenue that now goes to other states, or out of the country. It’s a win-win situation – and we simply cannot delay these reforms any longer. Delay has put our residents at risk and left our state falling behind Indiana, Illinois and others moving to capitalize on a growing trend.”
Iden – chair of the House Ways and Means Committee — is the bipartisan package’s lead sponsor. The legislation deals with fantasy sports, charitable gaming, and horse racing as well as sports betting and casino-style gaming.
The measures provide a competitive tax rate and regulatory framework for sports betting, so Michigan could join many other states – including Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania — in recognizing a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows legalization.
Online casino-style gaming and sports betting would be allowed only for those 21 and older through casinos already operating in Michigan, including Detroit’s three casinos and tribal casinos across the state.
The plan allows the Michigan Gaming Control Board to regulate online gaming with built-in safety features and strict state oversight – including age verification systems and protections against fraud. In-play sports betting would be based on official information provided by sports leagues such as the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and others.
The legislation calls for a portion of gross “igaming” and sports betting revenue – translating into millions of dollars – to improve essential public services without asking Michigan taxpayers to pay more at the gas pump or grocery store. The majority of that revenue would go to Michigan’s public schools. Several safeguards will be in place to protect and grow education funding, including a provision to ensure online games offered by casinos do not directly compete with games sponsored by the Michigan Lottery.
A portion of revenue from the reforms will go to a state fund that compensates first responders for lost wages and medical benefits if they get cancer from fighting fires. Another portion will be dedicated to the Compulsive Gambling Prevention Fund to help those in need access treatment and prevention programs.
“This is a reform Michigan residents clearly want because they’re already wagering in other states or on illegal websites,” Iden said. “Our state will no longer miss out on business, and our schools will no longer miss out on revenue. I am thankful for the bipartisan support these reforms have received in the Legislature as Michigan proves we can work together to foster economic growth and protect residents.”
The legislation: House Bills 4307-4312; 4323; 4173; 4916-4918.
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