Michigan Back to Square One As Governor Vetoes Sports Betting Bill

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Michigan casinos operators woke to a rude shock, days short of the New Year, as exiting Michigan Governor Rick Snyder suddenly vetoed the sports betting legalization bill that had been passed earlier that week. The news comes as a massive blow to The Great Lakes State, given how Michigan was set to be the fifth state in America to successfully legalize online gambling and sports betting.

The bills in question are the House Bill 4926 and the House Bill 4928, both of which had been drafted to bring in definitive rules and regulations to govern internet gambling (online casino games & poker) and sports betting in the state. The bills contained an important regulatory framework for the imposing of fees, taxes, penalties for violations, plus regulations specifically directed towards tribal casino management and other key administrative directions for government authorities and casino officials. In the early hours of December 23rd, 2018, the  House Bill 4926 was successfully passed with a majority of 33-5. The House Bill 4928 had already been passed in June at the House of Representatives, with a close vote of 68-40.

The bills 4926 and 4928 were part of a 40-bill list that was vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder, just hours before officially exiting the office. Gov. Snyder, a Republican, has always been on the fence about legalizing online gambling and sports betting. In his letter addressing the sudden veto, Gov. Snyder explained that the State’s budgetary concerns were the primary reason for his decision. However, industry insiders believe that the matter may go deeper, given his friendship with business magnate and owner/Chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Sheldon Adelson, who is an active supporter of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam Adelson, née Farbstein, have been the top donors of the Republican party in Michigan for the past two elections, having contributed over $123 million to the party in 2018. They started the movement to illegalize online gambling in early 2014 and the movement has gained momentum in the succeeding years. Gov. Snyder is one of the many senators who has been in-support of the Coalition.

The vetoing of the online gambling and sports betting bills in Michigan is a massive step-back for the State’s economy. Had it legalized the games, Michigan would have joined the ranks of Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania and become one of the pioneering states to benefit from this nascent industry.

However, with the bills being vetoed, not only will Michigan have to contend with a continued economic slowdown, but it must also be prepared for the increase in the number of illegal, underground online gambling and sports betting operators. Only time will tell what may happen.

About the Author

- iGaming & land based specialist reporter for the global gaming market