In many states, a litany of competing, interested parties continually toil to secure the best-case scenario for themselves, adding to the sports betting legalization drama. The question arises: Can’t we all just get along?
A forthcoming sports betting bill in the Michigan state legislature endeavors to do exactly that.
According to attorney and college instructor Daniel Wallach, a new sports betting bill will be rolled out this week that will assign online “skins” in as non-preferential a manner toward the state’s operators as possible. Wallach said each of the 12 indigenous tribes who operate the state’s tribal 22 casinos and the three Detroit casinos would get three such licenses. That would equate to 45 total “skins.”
This language won’t vary much from previously proposed legislation. HB 4311, which has been languishing in the House Ways and Means Committee since March 19, also authorized the state to issue digital gaming licenses to commercial and tribal casino operators in the state but did not specify how many “skins” were available for each operator.
Until the full text of the bill is introduced it’s difficult to know all the details that the proposal will entail. It’s likely, however, that the bill will be comprehensive in its framework to cover all aspects of legal online sports betting in the state.
This will include the cost for licenses, the tax rate for revenue, whether bets may be placed on games involving Michigan’s college teams, whether bettors must be within a certain physical proximity to the operating casino, whether operators have to use official data to set their bets and whether operators are required to pay any portion of their handle to sports leagues.
Based on the language in HB 4311 and the bill vetoed by former Gov. Rick Snyder last December, it’s possible to make some informed conjectures about what the new sports betting bill may look like given the fact those pieces of proposed legislation had broad bipartisan support. The bill passed by the legislature to Snyder taxed handle at a rate of 8 percent and allowed both land-based and mobile betting.
Neither piece of proposed legislation required those placing digital bets to be within a geofenced area or compelled sportsbooks to purchase official data from sports leagues to set their bets. Those bills also allowed bets to be placed on games involving Michigan’s college teams.
It’s also uncertain what level of support current Gov. Gretchen Whitmer may lend toward the effort. One of the reasons Snyder gave for his veto before he left office was that the bill would reduce the overall contribution legal gambling makes to the state’s treasury by creating a new competitor to the state’s lottery and how the revenue created by the bill was directed.
It’s likely that if Whitmer holds a similar view, she would threaten a veto as well. What, if anything, the new bill will do to address that potential issue will be known once the bill has formally been introduced.
There is a lot of uncertainty about the prospects of Michigan joining the list of states to legalize sports betting since May 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports wagering outside of Nevada. But what seems certain is that a new bill will bring Michigan’s issues to a head. Based on what’s known now, the concerns of all parties involved will be accounted for, maximizing the potential for quick passage.