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Legal Sports Betting in Michigan

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Updated on January 25, 2020

Though it may have taken longer than most anticipated, sports betting in Michigan is now officially legal. 

MI HB 4916, a package of online casino gaming and sports betting bills sponsored by Michigan House Rep. Brandt Iden, was signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer on December 20, 2019. 

Michigan is now estimated to become one of the most robust online gambling and sports betting markets in the U.S. because of the way the bills were written. Getting to this point was not easy and took about two years to come into fruition. 

Even so, sports betting in Michigan is still in its initial stages. Regulations still need to be set, licenses still need to be approved, and sportsbooks still need to launch. 

Part of that process is estimated to be completed by the spring of 2020, but it’s worth exploring how the state got this far and how it became the 20th state to legalize sports wagering.

Michigan Sports Betting Timeline

Michigan sports betting and overall gambling expansion has been an issue that House Rep. Brandt Iden had been working towards for quite some time. 

Having to balance concerns between sports gambling companies, potential sportsbook operators, state legislators, and multiple governors all played factors into bills finally being passed. 

2017 – In January of 2017, Michigan Rep. Robert Kosowski introduced MI H 4060 to the Michigan House. It was a stand-alone bill that would’ve legalized sports betting in Michigan. It was then heard in the House Regulatory Reform Committee in which Rep. Brandt Iden was the chair of. The bill ultimately did not gain traction after that hearing.

Later on, in September of 2017, Iden introduced MI HB 4926. That bill aimed to legalize online casino gaming in the state. It wasn’t until December of that year that a single line was written into the bill that would have given online casinos the authority to offer sports betting. That bill was then carried over to the following year.

2018 – MI HB 4926 didn’t see any action taken on it in the legislature until June 12, 2018. The bill made it out of the House that same month, but it wasn’t until the final days of December that it passed through both legislative chambers. 

It was presented to former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on the final days of that year’s session and on December 31, 2018, he ultimately vetoed the package online gaming bills. 

2019 – In March of 2019, Rep. Brandt Iden introduced MI HB 4311. The bill originally excluded language that had to do with sports betting but kept provisions for online casino gaming. Eventually, in September of 2019, Iden introduced MI HB 4916 which was a stand-alone sports betting bill. 

Both pieces of legislation introduced that year were combined into a package of gambling expansion bills. The bills were seen as favorable by industry stakeholders, but concerns from current Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer stalled the momentum of them. 

History ultimately repeated itself and the package of bills was passed on the final day of the 2019 legislative session. Although, this time the governor signed off and approved each of those bills. 

Michigan has a sports betting law designed to succeed

The experience of other states and other countries has informed the new Michigan laws. The combined package of low license fees, low taxes, and wide game selection creates a recipe for success.

  • Online poker and casino games, as well as retail and online sports betting in Michigan, are legal.
  • Gambling taxes will be 8.4 percent of gross gaming revenues—comparable with Nevada’s 6.75 percent
  • Application fees are $50,000, license fees are $100,000 and annual renewal fees are $50,000.
  • State-licensed casinos will pay an additional 1.25 percent tax to help Detroit recover from its bankruptcy. Tribal casinos are exempt from the additional tax.

Casinos in Pennsylvania have to pay up to $12 million for an interactive gaming license and another $10 million for a live and online sports betting license. On top of these fees, gaming taxes are extremely high with 54 percent to pay on online slots and 36 percent on sports betting.

Michigan has set its rates and fees at a level that will attract players back from the black market and encourage new players to opt for legal providers.

Minimal gambling restrictions

Anyone over the age of 21 can gamble at live and online properties subject only to the provision that they must be within state borders.

Michigan sports betting operators are limited to offering only one online sports wagering skin. But, there are a total of 26 casinos in Michigan which means there are plenty of opportunity’s for online operators to hit the market. 

In-person registration for the use of mobile sports betting apps in Michigan is not required to you will be able to sign up and bet from anywhere in the state. 

Although, the new laws do not necessarily leave open the option for the state to enter into an interstate compact with other gaming states. This would have been particularly useful in enabling betting exchanges.

Unlike the gambling packages in 2018, the 2019 versions did not explicitly mention provisions for this. Those rules may change in the future, but for now, online gambling in Michigan is going to be a lone wolf. 

Currently, Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada form one interstate compact where players may be pooled for online poker. Pennsylvania will probably join before Michigan launches online gaming, forming a player pool drawn from a population of 26 million people. If Michigan then joins, the network will serve states with a total population of 36 million—more than 10 percent of the US population.

Michigan has a competitive casino landscape

There are 26 casinos currently licensed in Michigan. The majority are tribal, but there are three in Detroit itself:

  • Greektown Casino Hotel
  • MGM Grand Detroit
  • MotorCity Casino Hotel

All three are likely to seek online gambling licenses and very few of the tribal casinos will want to miss out on the opportunity. At a total of $200,000 for a license, the barriers to entry are low.

This all looks like making a punters paradise where competition for customers is fierce, odds are highly competitive and promotions abundant.

Michigan Sportsbooks

Even though sports betting licences have yet to be given out to casinos in Michigan, that has not stopped those casinos from signing partnerships with sportsbook providers. Certain businesses that are well known in states with legal sports betting have secured their spot to operate in the Michigan market. 

PointsBet actually signed a 20-year deal with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. The deal allows PointsBet to operate retail sportsbooks within the tribe’s casinos as well as offer a mobile sports betting app in Michigan. 

On the same day, The Stars Group also signed a deal with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority. The deal allows them to offer online poker, casino games, and sports betting in Michigan. The Stars Group will launch Fox Bet as their online sports wagering platform. 

Scientific Games has also announced a partnership with FireKeepers casino. The terms of that deal also include online as well as a retail sportsbook in their casino. 

Other apps and sportsbooks that can soon be announced are BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and more. 

Michigan Sports Betting FAQs

Can I bet on the Michigan Wolverines or the Michigan State Spartans in MI?

Yes, collegiate sports betting in Michigan is legal and the law allows residents to bet on the state’s home teams. Traditional bet types and even player props on MI athletes are all on the table in Michigan.

When will Michigan sportsbooks Launch?

A definitive timeline for when sportsbooks in Michigan will launch is yet to be determined. Regulatory measures and licensing processes still have to be done. Lawmakers are hopeful that retail MI sportsbooks could launch by March Madness in 2020. Online sportsbooks in MI will more than likely have to wait until early 2021 to launch.

Are online sports betting apps in Michigan Legal?

Yes, sports betting apps in Michigan are legal but they have not launched yet. With so many casinos able to provide this feature, look out for big names like DraftKings, PointsBet, and William Hill to enter the market soon along with the already confirmed businesses.

Who is in charge of Michigan sports betting?

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) is the regulatory agency that oversees sports betting operations in the state. They accept applications and award sports betting licenses to casinos.