Michigan Waiting on Big Gambling Expansion

Michigan has a number of major gambling bills awaiting a decision from the Senate, including one that will legalize online gambling.

The state legislature is also working hard to push through a sports betting legalization bill. This would drastically change the gambling landscape in the state.

Gambling is already big business in Michigan and it looks set to get even bigger. Tribal casinos have been legal since 1993 and casinos in Detroit have been legal since 1997. In 2014, online lottery games were made legal, so the next logical steps are to legalize sports betting and online gambling.

Benefits of online gambling

The bill that relates to online gambling is being sponsored by Representative Brandt Iden. If it gains approval, three of the state’s commercial casinos and the 20-plus tribal casinos in the state will be able to offer online gambling.

This bill has provisions for the regulatory framework needed to make this move a success. There is already a popular black market for illegal online gambling in the state, so this needs to be dealt with also.

Legalization would be a big revenue booster, with more and more people turning to online gambling due to its ease of use. As you don’t have to be in a physical location to gamble, inevitably the number of people gambling at any given time is going to be higher.

New Jersey has legal online gambling for sports betting and now receives more revenue from online means than through offline locations. This is why many states are looking to follow suit.

Opposition in Michigan

Numerous parties in Michigan are fighting the push for legal online gambling. The Michigan Association on Problem Gambling has voiced its concerns, pointing to a proximity study that demonstrates that the opening of a new casino leads to a doubling of issues with problem gambling within a 50-mile radius.

If people can place bets through their mobile devices, the association is concerned that this will have an even more significant effect.

According to the group’s research, there are more than 100,000 people in Michigan with a gambling problem. The group estimates that this figure will rise significantly should online gambling be legalized.

The group understands that the passing of this bill looks likely. Therefore, it is trying to propose some damage limitation measures such as putting more funding towards programs that will help problem gamblers.

What’s next for the bill?

This bill looks like it will inevitably come into law. It successfully received the approval of the house and the state is now waiting on the decision from the Senate. Once this comes, the governor will sign the bill and it will become law.

Legal sports betting

If the online gambling bill passes, it will automatically make sports betting legal and this would make Michigan the first state in the Midwest to have legal sports betting. Naturally, this would be a great benefit, as those in surrounding states could travel into Michigan to place their sports bets.

This is what has been observed in New Jersey, especially with mobile gambling being allowed. People from neighbouring states such as New York cross the state border into New Jersey and then place their sports bets through a mobile app before heading back across the border.

One of the highly debated issues with regards to Michigan’s sports betting bill is the provision for integrity fees. This would see the major sports leagues getting a slice of the revenues off each sports bet placed on one of their games.

This has not been popular in any state so far that has legalized sports betting. It takes too much off the margins of the sportsbooks and operators will not put as much effort into their offerings. However, the sponsor of this bill, Iden, is seriously thinking about the inclusion of such a measure in a final sports betting bill.

Ongoing developments

Michigan has always been a state that has really embraced the gambling sector. It has long pushed for online gambling despite a lot of resistance in other states.

The November midterm elections did cause some uncertainty about the future of these bills. The upper chamber now has a lot more Democrats, but the Senate is still in the control of the Republicans. However, the new Democrat state Governor Gretchen Whitmer is in favour of expansion of gambling in Michigan.

There are, of course, some serious issues to debate on the issue. However, all signs look good for online gambling and sports betting to be legal in Michigan by early 2019.

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