Creating a sports betting framework in Michigan is turning out to be a headache for the authorities. The Michigan tribes, which were earlier not keen on the regulation, have finally warmed up to the idea. However, we are unsure if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has had a similar change of heart.
What will Whitmer do?
Gov. Whitmer is negotiating taxes on online gambling and sports betting, but we don’t know her stance on gambling if legislation ever comes to her table. Rep. Brandt Iden will now have to push the bill harder to ensure he has more legislative support on his side. He has successfully united all 23 tribal casinos in the state for his bill.
It is imperative to gain the trust of tribal casinos to pass any legislation in the state. They have been historically opposed to the idea of sports betting, and if they are uninterested, they may stop making revenue payments to the state. They may involve a legal peculiarity which gives them gaming exclusivity, thereby thwarting the chances of any sports betting bill ever passing through the legislature. Note that sports betting may bring between $16 million and $20 million in taxes to the state. The tribes paid $53.4 million in revenue share to the state in 2018.
The tribes are coming together
Speaking to The Detroit Free Press, Iden said that the tribes are finally coming together on the sports betting issue. However, they are demanding a level playing field with the commercial casinos that may enter the state. This means that the tribes should be free to partner with sports betting providers around the world that removes the technological disadvantage to the tribes.
Gov. Whitmer has to consider the interests of the tribes if and when she approves a sports betting bill. Another important concern will be the future of the state lottery. Iden has proposed a comprehensive gaming expansion plan that includes online gaming and sports betting and will allow daily fantasy sports as well. The lottery may reach a disadvantaged position because the new establishments could quickly chip away its revenue.
The Michigan lottery is not a small operation either. It has earned over $250 million for the state that goes straight to the School Aid Fund. If the lottery faces stiff competition, the Fund may also struggle in the long run. Whitmer vetoes a gambling bill last year, suggesting the harm it could cause to the state lottery.