WWJ -- Legislation for legalized sports betting in Michigan took a step forward on Tuesday as the state House Regulatory Reform Committee approved a package of three bills that now advance to the House Ways and Means Committee.
The three bills center around HB 4916, which would legalize mobile and in-person sports bets throughout the state. The bill would allow all three of Michigan's commercial casinos -- all of which are based in Detroit -- as well as 23 Native American casinos to accept wagers, both online and in-person. That bill is also accompanied by a pair of measures for regulations and criminal provisions.
The biggest roadblock facing the bills reportedly lies in the tax rates. The commercial casinos would reportedly be charged a tax rate of 11.25% and Native American casinos an 8% rate. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is reportedly calling for a much higher rate.
Michael Burke, President of the Michigan Association on Problem Gambling, was the only person to testify at Tuesday's hearing. He says problem gambling impacts 171,000 people in Michigan.
"Ultimately, there will be a small, but significant portion of gamblers who experience negative consequences as a result of sports betting," Burke said. "But if we address certain aspects of this legislation now, we can help to mitigate the negative consequences associated with this silent addiction."
The legislation now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee, which. reviews many bills involving tax policies and regulatory reform. The committee is a pivotal point for the bills, as it is a committee that can advance the bills directly to the House floor. The Ways and Means Committee also happens to be chaired by Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Kalamazoo, who introduced the bill.
It is unclear whether Whitmer would sign the legislation if it is ultimately approved in the House and Senate.