by Scott McClallen
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan bill package into law Friday, legalizing online gambling and sports betting in casinos.
“My top priority in signing this legislation was protecting and investing in the School Aid Fund, because our students deserve leaders who put their education first,” Whitmer said in a news release. “Thanks in part to the hard work and leadership of Senator [Curtis] Hertel and Representative [Rebekah] Warren, these bills will put more dollars in Michigan classrooms and increase funding for firefighters battling cancer. This is a real bipartisan win for our state.”
The Michigan Department of Treasury estimated the package will generate $19 million of new revenue for the state.
The revenue will increase the School Aid Fund’s revenue by $4.8 million, while $4 million will flow to the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund (FRPCF), which gives weekly workers’ compensation and medical benefits to first responders who develop cancer caused by smoke inhalation.
This deal will be the first dedicated funding for FRPCF, Whitmer said.
The package will tax sports bets at 8.4 percent post-payout with a tiered tax between 20 percent and 28 percent on Internet gaming, contingent on the revenue generated and local taxes.
Bill sponsor Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo Township, previously told The Center Square the plan aimed to protect consumers from black-market betting while diverting revenue to the state.
“After four years of hard work, I’m happy to see Michigan enter the modern era of gaming,” Iden said in a statement. “We’ll have a safe, regulated environment for the thousands of Michigan residents who for years have been forced to travel to other states or play on risky offshore sites. Our economy will benefit as jobs are created within a growing industry. Our schools and local communities will benefit from new revenue. This is a huge win for our state and its residents.”
The bill package allows tribal casinos to gamble online and to bet on sports while collecting revenue for tribal community activities.
Sen. Curtis Hertel, D- East Lansing, called the package “a huge win” in a Facebook post.
“Not only does it legalize popular entertainment options, it regulates them and makes them safe for those who play,” Hertel said. “More importantly it brings much needed funding into our classrooms and provides a permanent funding source for the First Responders Presumed Coverage fund, that takes care of first responders who get cancer while serving us.”
HB 4311 allows The Michigan Gaming Control Board to regulate online gambling licenses and rules that all current casino games could be offered online or on mobile devices.
HB 4308 creates the Fantasy Contests Consumer Protection Act structuring regulation for legal commercial and private fantasy sports contests if the groups adhere to specific rules.
When Michigan residents will be able to take part in the expanded gambling options depends on when the gaming control board can put the rules in place.
“Michigan’s gaming laws had not been significantly revised in more than two decades, and we were behind the times,” Iden said in a statement. “But after working with two different governors and two different Legislatures to see this through, we finally have reforms to benefit the residents of our state for years to come.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Sports Book” by Leyla.A CC BY-SA 2.0.