The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on state-authorized single-game sports wagering on May 14, 2018, opening the door for other states to legalize sports betting if they choose. Michigan is already seriously considering legislation, with hopes of launching legal sports betting sometime in 2019.
Michigan sports betting status
There are currently 23 tribal casinos, three commercial casinos and two horse tracks that could serve as potential sites for sportsbooks in Michigan.
In 2017, a bill was proposed that would allow casinos to accept wagers on sporting events and “promulgate rules to regulate the conduct of sports betting.”
There are currently eight bills that would expand gambling in the state, four of which have received votes in the Michigan Legislature. The four bills that would regulate internet gambling and fantasy sports betting have not been voted upon.
State representative Brandt Iden has been leading the charge for several years on a bill that would allow sports betting in Detroit casinos as well as tribal casinos throughout Michigan. The Supreme Court’s decision paves the way for lawmakers to act on Iden’s bill.
However, the Indian gaming tribes that run 23 independent casinos may be opposed to the bill due to its language on online poker. Section 16 of the bill would authorize online poker along with sports betting. The tribes are reportedly concerned that if federal law prohibits them from offering online gambling, the commercial casinos would be able to continue operating such games thanks to the language of the bill.
Iden hopes to get a vote on the bill before the Michigan Legislature breaks for summer June 21.
Michigan sportsbooks, racebooks, and casinos
The MGM Grand Detroit aims to be the first Michigan casino with live sportsbooks and is currently lobbying with lawmakers to promote and potentially expedite legislation.
Michigan race tracks such as Northville Downs are also steadfast in their support of regulated sports betting.
There are potential conflicts of interest in two of Detroit’s main casinos, as MotorCity Casino is owned by Detroit Red Wings owner Marian Ilitch and Greektown Casino by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.
Any sports wagering operation at those casinos would be forced to exclude bets on those teams. The MLB and NFL prohibit owners from having a stake in any gambling operations, which could create further restrictions in other states. However, Ilitch’s husband, Mike, and their son, Chris, own the Detroit Tigers.
Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos are operated by sovereign nations, meaning the state can’t regulate their practices. The state oversees the finances and has compacts with the tribes, but those tribes are able to make final decisions regarding their practices in accordance with the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Because sports wagering requires more overhead costs than slot machines (the tribal casinos main source of income), those tribes may deem sports books unprofitable, especially in rural locations.
Sports Betting FAQ
When will sports betting be legal in Michigan?
According to state representative Brandt Iden, the issue of sports betting has become “tangled” with that of daily fantasy sports betting. Members of the House and Senate might hesitate to fall on either side of that controversial issue, especially in an election year.
While legislators will continue to discuss the issue this summer, it’s unlikely for sports betting to become legalized in Michigan during 2018. Once the proposed bills are redrafted and specified with regards to sports books in brick-and-mortar casinos, regulation should become possible by 2019.
Where can I place sports bets in Michigan?
Betting on sports is not legal anywhere in Michigan. However, it could become legal for patrons over the age of 21 beginning with commercial casinos in the Detroit area.
Can I bet on my mobile device?
Should sports gambling become legalized, the legislation would account for “internet wagering,” allowing patrons to bet from their mobile devices.
Which sports teams in Michigan can I bet on?
Due to conflicts of interest, some casinos may have restrictions on teams in the region such as the Detroit Red Wings and Cleveland Cavaliers. Otherwise, most sporting events will be available to bet upon.
Who would oversee Michigan sports betting?
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) would likely oversee the state’s sports betting industry.
Can I get into trouble for placing bets with unregulated online sportsbooks before it’s legal in Michigan?
Betting with unregulated sportsbooks from other states or countries is illegal in accordance with Michigan state law. While highly unlikely, doing so could result in prosecution.