Sports betting legislation gains traction

Sep 17, 2019

Plans to make Michigan a sports betting state are moving through the state Legislature. A package of bills is scheduled to be voted out of a House committee Tuesday.

Credit Flicker

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is concerned that expanding gambling in Michigan — including through legalized sports betting — will take away from the School Aid Fund. She says people could end up playing the lottery less. A portion of the lottery revenue goes to schools.

Bill sponsor, Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Township) says that’s not the case.

“Unfortunately, the administration in my opinion still doesn’t quite understand and comprehend the fact that this won’t impact the lottery,” Iden says.

Iden believes sports betting and other types of gambling expansion in the state wouldn’t take away from the lottery because people either play on all platforms or they have certain games that they like.

“These are new funds that we should be contemplating in my opinion as the administration looks for more dollars,” he says.

But if the state continues to not allow these types of games, Iden says people will go elsewhere.

“We have to move forward with this because what we’re seeing is we are losing customers to other states,” Iden told reporters. 

Iden goes across the Michigan border to bet on sports games – and he sees Michigan license plates in the parking lots. 

The package of bills would create a Division of Sports Betting in the state’s Gaming Control Board. If passed, the division would create rules, license sports betting establishments and oversee organizations with sports betting licenses. The bills would not allow people to bet on some events – like high school sports, fantasy sports and horse racing.

Both sides say they’re open to continued discussions on the bills.