HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveVolume 25Issue 35MICHIGAN SPORTS WAGERING GETS PRELIMINARY FOCUS

Michigan’s legislature passed a bill (HB 4916) authorizing sports wagering last week as part of a comprehensive gaming reform package and Governor Whitmer signed the bill into law today, December 20, 2019. More information on the package of bills can be found in Volume 25, Issue 34 of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

The bill contemplates sports wagering being offered at both commercial and tribal casinos in the state, and online by licensed commercial and licensed tribal operators. In pushing to pass the bills, key  members of the legislature made it clear that they were hopeful that the MGCB could act quickly to get sports wagering systems in place and have expressed a goal of seeing this offering being available, at least in bricks and mortar casino sportsbooks, by the NCAA basketball tournament in March.  

Before launch, the Michigan Gaming Control Board will need to promulgate regulations governing sports wagering. Given that the mobile component of sports wagering will present unique challenges and rules, Michigan’s Detroit casinos will likely launch sports wagering on-premise first. Online wagering, however, will take more time as it will require outside operators to become licensed and the MGCB to promulgate new mobile-related regulations.

Several key regulatory policy questions will arise for regulators in states where the activity becomes lawful. RMC Legal has recently published an article entitled “Sports Betting Oversight” in Global Gaming Business Magazine. The article explores the question of how jurisdictions can best regulate and oversee sports wagering as it becomes more prevalent across the United States. The article identifies several policy issues that need to be addressed in sports betting regulation, including: integrity issues; who will operate sportsbooks; licensing of service providers; mobile and online wagering; cash reserve requirements; and collegiate sports wagering. In addition, the article discusses the four different approaches states have taken for internal controls and the practices surrounding the development of house rules. Finally, the article gives an overview of tribal sports wagering in the United States. The full article can be found here.

Some of Michigan’s tribal casinos may be able to bring on-premise sports wagering to market very quickly. Tribal casinos are subject to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”) and the jurisdiction of the National Indian Gaming Commission (“NIGC”). Sports wagering is defined as a form of Class III gaming under IGRA and the applicable NIGC regulations. Each compact that the tribes have entered into with the state of Michigan is unique, with some specifically defining the types of Class III games allowed, and others broadly authorizing all forms of Class III gaming. It is important to note, however, that for any mobile or online wagering, the recently passed legislation provides for licensing of tribes by the MGCB for gaming that extends beyond the tribal reservation borders.


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