Michigan’s New Sports Betting Bill

As of January 18th, we can officially add Michigan to the growing list of states that are trying to push back against PASPA and profit off of legalized and regulated sports betting. Michigan representative Robert Kosowski introduced a bill to the House on January 18th, 2017, one that would allow for casinos in the state to operate sportsbooks. It was referred to the committee on Regulatory Reform.

This is the second time Kosowski has introduced a bill of this nature. Where the last time this bill died in committees after being introduced, the Representative is now “cautiously optimistic” that his bill will make it through the legislature this time. Kosowski serves as Democratic Whip and has spoken to representatives from both sides of the house. Michigan has a Republican majority this session, but Kosowski says that this is not daunting; that, in fact, “it’s really good the comments I am getting back. I was kind of encouraged to reintroduce it.”

This Michigan sports betting bill has a long way to go before it can be introduced as a law, though. Aside from making it through both the House and Senate, it must also be voted on by Michigan residents. If – and that’s a pretty big if at this point – the bill makes it through the process and is signed into law, it faces its biggest battle. The NCAA and professional sports leagues will most definitely bring Michigan to court over this law.

What Does The Bill Entail?

The main goal of this bill is to open sports gambling to Michigan residents, enabling casinos to conduct the actual transactions. The verbiage used in Michigan’s HB 4060 sports betting bill is refreshingly simplistic. According to section 9E:



This bill would have to be passed by a referendum, as it is an amendment to state code. If passed through and signed into law, it would challenge PASPA, more than likely facing legal action from the NCAA as well as the NFL, NHL, NBA, and Major League Baseball.

Kosowski has voiced his opinion on this as well, stating that “it should be equal everywhere. It [sports betting] should be up to the states.” While Michigan has not overtly stated its intentions like New Jersey and West Virginia, if the legislature gets behind Kosowski’s bill, we may see another state gearing up for another constitutional battle.

Will This Be Passed in 2017?

The actuality of this bill being passed and signed into law in 2017 is slim. Representative Kosowski knows this but remains adamant. He believes that this bill would help the state in many ways, just one being its ability to shore up Michigan’s economy through something other than excessive taxation of its residents.

Michigan has repeatedly turned to taxing its citizens to create revenue for the state. Kosowski purports that using regulated sports gambling in Michigan’s already numerous casinos would bring in more revenue than gas or other taxes could. “This is a billion-dollar industry, just Michigan alone, by some of the small studies we have seen.”

While we’re not quite sure that Michigan drums up a billion dollars just by itself, we do know that the AGA (American Gaming Association) estimates sports betting to be around a $150-$380 billion industry. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver estimated it to be around $400 billion. So, even a small portion of that would make a world of difference. No matter what number you choose to look at it legal Michigan gambling would be a lot more beneficial to the people if it included sports betting as well!

HB 4060 will be presented to the same committee as it was the last time it made a foray into the Michigan House of Representatives. This time it will face an entirely new group of committee chairs, though, which is a big part of Kosowski’s optimism. The Representative believes in the bill’s ability to drum up revenue and regulate a huge part of the gambling black market, he knows that it would help the state immensely. He also knows it’s going to take time. “Are we going to do it next month? No. But maybe next year.”

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