Michigan state rep working to legalize sports betting by end of this year

Posted at 5:50 AM, Oct 11, 2019

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Sports betting is currently illegal in the state of Michigan, but one state representative hopes it will be legal before the end of this year.

Representative Brandt Iden, R-Kalamazoo, says he has been working for the past three years to try and get sports betting legalized. He says the original intent for legalizing sports betting was to keep consumers safe.

“What you can do is you can, in any Internet browser, type in 'sports betting Michigan' and a host of websites that are all off shore will pop up, and you can place wagers through them – folks need to be protected from those kind of bad actors in the marketplace,” said Representative Iden.

The bill Rep. Iden has been pushing for has seen a number of setbacks, including how much sports betting should be taxed once legalized.

Rep. Iden wants it to be taxed at 8 percent, but Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said she wants it taxed at 15 percent. Currently, there is a 3.25 percent additional tax in Detroit, where there are three major casinos. That being the case, if sports betting is set at 15 percent, it would be taxed in Detroit at 18.25 percent, which Rep. Iden feels is too high. However, he says he is willing to negotiate.

“I recognize that I’ll need to meet the governor potentially halfway on this and I am willing to do that,” he said.

Michigan's budget was just approved a few weeks ago on September 30, just a day before the deadline.

“We were having good discussions up until the summer, once we got into the throes of the budget debate, but now that the budget is behind us, I think we can move forward with discussing a good sound policy for the state of Michigan and this being one of those key items,” said Representative Iden.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office sent 7 Action News the following statement:

The fiscal implication with this legislation is concerning; however, we are open to further discussion. We initially submitted suggestions to a draft bill and anticipated that we would have an opportunity to review an updated draft before the bill dropped. However, that did not happen. We continue to have revenue concerns regarding the bill’s impacts on the School Aid Fund.

Right now, the lottery money goes into the School Aid Fund. The concern is legalizing gambling could take away from the lottery and therefore take away from the fund.

Representative Iden predicts the state stands to rake in anywhere between $30 to $50 million, but he says that isn’t a ton of money considering Michigan’s budget currently stands at $60 billion.