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On the heels of several Michigan lawmakers telling the media last week they wanted legal sports betting in the state by the Super Bowl comes news that the House Regulatory Reform Committee has approved three bills that would make wagering legal.
The three bills are focused around House Bill 4916 that would enable operators in the state of Michigan to offer mobile and on-site sports bets statewide.
The bill package would allow all three of Detroit’s casinos plus the 23 Native American casinos in the state to take bets on sporting events via a mobile app or in-person.
Now that the bills have gone through the regulatory arm of the House, the next step is getting passage by the House Ways and Means Committee, headed by one of the bill’s authors, Rep. Brandt Iden, a Republican representing Portage.
Rep. Iden has spearheaded the charge to get sports betting into the state by early February of 2020.
“My goal is to have this up and running by the Super Bowl. Casinos are moving forward because they know it’s going to come to fruition at some point,” he recently told the regulatory committee.
In Iden’s Ways and Means committee, lawmakers will continue fine-tuning details of the bill with the Governor’s office, hoping to smooth over potential issues that have already risen such as problems with the proposed tax rates in the legislation.
The biggest problem in getting the bills to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for approval is the proposed tax rate in the bills.
Currently, the measures call for an 8% tax on sports betting revenue from the Native America casinos and an 11.25% rate on the Detroit casinos.
At that rate, the state estimates the gambling taxes will generate somewhere between $8.7 million to $11.2 million for Michigan schools.
Aides for Gov. Whitmer has told reporters the bill’s tax rate is too low for obtaining the approval of the governor and expressed frustration at being left out of the bill’s creation.
“We initially submitted suggestions to a draft bill and anticipated that we would have an opportunity to review an updated draft before the bill dropped,” Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said. “However, that did not happen.”
The state’s budget office also raised a red flag for the current administration by estimating that the low tax rate would cost schools roughly $28 million per year.
The office further suggested that the tax rate should be around 40% for online gaming and 15% for sports wagers.
Iden told The Detroit News that the office’s suggested tax rate is preposterous, saying the 40% tax rate “isn’t even in the realm of possibility” for state legislators.
“I’m willing to come up to 9, 9 and a half (percent tax rate),” Iden told reporters last week. “I think we could probably even maybe get to 10, potentially. I’ve thrown these numbers out for the governor and I’m just waiting on a response for this.”
If Gov. Whitmer is satisfied after the bills go through the state’s House and Senate and approve the bill, Michigan bettors could be betting on the Super Bowl in Miami on February 2nd, 2020.
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