A year of negotiations look set to conclude with bills to legalize online gaming and sports betting passing into law in Michigan, after the Senate passed Representative Brandt Iden’s proposals by significant margins.
The bill to regulate sports betting, House Bill 4916, was passed by the Senate with 35 lawmakers voting for the bill, and just three against. The online gaming bill, HB4311, passed by the same margin.
This followed each bill being approved by the chamber’s Committee of the Whole, having been ratified by the Regulatory Reform Committee, following significant changes.
This saw the tax rate for HB4916 lowered to 8.4% of gross revenue, from the original 8.75%. The state’s three land-based casinos and tribal venues will be permitted to offer retail wagering, as well as operating one online platform, paying $50,000 application, and $100,000 license fee.
However it was HB4311 that saw the most sweeping changes, due to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s concerns over online lottery revenue being cannibalized by new forms of igaming. As a result the tax rate has increased significantly, rising to a minimum of 20%, for operators generating revenue of $4m or less, and to 28% for those that bring in more than $12m.
The bulk of tax revenue generated from legal igaming will be allocated to the Michigan School Aid Fund, which is currently the main beneficiary of lottery funding.
While each bill has cleared the Senate, they now return to the Michigan House of Representatives for concurrence, as a result of the changes made in the upper chamber. This must take place today (December 12), the final day of Michigan’s 2019 legislative session.
Should each be waved through – something that is expected to happen – they would then progress to Governor Whitmer’s desk to be signed into law. Local sources suggest that with her concerns adequately addressed, Whitmer is likely to ratify each bill next week.
This would mark a significant victory for the bills’ author, Representative Brandt Iden, who last year saw two similar bills move through the legislature, only to be vetoed by outgoing Republican Governor Rick Snyder.
During the legislative session Representative Iden spoke to iGB North America about the negotiations with the Governor, which you can read here.