Michigan Senate Approves Bills, Clears Path For Legalized Sports Betting, Online Gaming

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Michigan is positioned to become the latest state to legalize sports betting after lawmakers in the Senate passed a package of bills Wednesday that will allow for mobile sports betting, internet casino games, online poker, and daily fantasy sports.

Despite some last-minute amendments from Senator Curtis Hertel, all three bills received a final vote of 35-3 and were put into immediate effect. The bills now head back to the House for concurrence on the amendments, which is expected to take place later in the day. Once that occurs, the bills will be on their way to desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to be signed into law.

Unlike her predecessor, former Gov. Rick Snyder, Whitmer is expected to sign the bill when it hits her desk this week, especially after the resolution of ongoing negotiations regarding the tax structure made its way into the approved Senate bill.

Through Press Secretary Tiffany Brown, Gov. Whitmer expressed her support of the bill and approval of the changes that were made by the Senate:

“The governor is pleased with the progress made on gaming over the course of this year, particularly once Senator Hertel and Representative [Rebekah] Warren were able to engage and resolve key issues to get this package across the finish line. The governor’s top priority when getting this done was to protect the School Aid Fund, and Senator Hertel and Representative Warren helped make that happen and address a number of other concerns she had. This is a good, bipartisan solution made possible by working together on a complex issue, and the governor looks forward to closely reviewing this package once it hits her desk.”

Tax terms adjusted

The key issue the statement refers to is basically an allocation of tax dollars associated with iGaming and sports betting. While House Representative Brandt Iden had been championing lower tax rates in order to ensure that new suppliers and operators of legalized gaming would not be unduly burdened, Whitmer was concerned with portions of legalized gaming, specifically online casino games, becoming a replacement for those who participate in the state’s lottery. Profits from the lottery provide aid to Michigan schools and government services.

Iden was proposing for a tax rate of 8.75% while Whitmer was pushing for something closer to 15%. In the end, the Senate bill changes reflected compromise based on the behind-the-scenes negotiations.

The proposed tax rate to online sports betting and daily fantasy sports was actually lowered from 8.75% to 8.4%, with an additional tax of 3.25% for Detroit-based operators. However, an increased “graduated tax” rate for online gaming, including casino games and online poker, starts at 20% for adjusted gross receipts of less than $4 million and can reach as high as 28% for AGRs of $12 million or more.

The tiered tax rates are as follows:

  • Adjusted Gross Receipts of $4 million or less: 20%
  • Adjusted Gross Receipts between $4 million-$8 million: 22%
  • Adjusted Gross Receipts between $8 million-$10 million: 24%
  • Adjusted Gross Receipts between $10 million-$12 million: 26%
  • Adjusted Gross Receipts of $12 million or more: 28%

With the approval of the full Senate, the legalization of sports betting is on the virtual one-yard line. Once the House approves the changes made to the package by the Senate, all eyes will be on Gov. Whitmer.

It’s expected that Whitmer will sign before the end of the legislative session on Dec. 19, turning Michigan, and its population of 10 million, into one of the United States’ mobile gaming powerhouses, with consumers likely able to place bets before the end of 2020.

Jeff Walsh

Jeff Walsh has been a member of the poker media for over seven years and currently serves as the Senior Writer for the leading online poker website PocketFives.com. He is also a contributor to the US Bets network of sites.

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