Gov. signs online gambling, sports betting bills

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her year-end press conference, Dec. 18, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday morning signed a large package of bills that create the framework for legalized online gaming and sports betting. 

    The governor’s office says expanded legalized gambling should bring $19 million in new revenue for the state, citing figures from the Michigan Department of Treasury. That money will go to the School Aid Fund and for a workers’ compensation fund for first responders. 

    “My top priority in signing this legislation was protecting and investing in the School Aid Fund, because our students deserve leaders who put their education first,” Whitmer said in a statement.

    The governor specifically thanked state Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) and state Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) for helping shepherd the bills through the Legislature where they passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. 

    “These bills will put more dollars in Michigan classrooms and increase funding for firefighters battling cancer,” Whitmer said. “This is a real bipartisan win for our state.” 

    A specific timeline for implementation of the regulations for expanded legal gambling was unclear, but Hertel has previously said he’s hopeful it will be completed by the March Madness college basketball season in early spring. 

    “The gaming package signed in to law today is a huge win for our State,” Hertel wrote in a tweet on Friday afternoon. “Not only does [it] legalize popular entertainment options, it regulates them and makes them safe for those who play.”

    Michigan could soon legalize sports betting, online gambling

    State Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo) was the lead sponsor of the main piece of legislation. In a statement, he also touted the regulatory and revenue-generating aspects of the bill package. 

    “After four years of hard work, I’m happy to see Michigan enter the modern era of gaming,” Iden said. “We’ll have a safe, regulated environment for the thousands of Michigan residents who for years have been forced to travel to other states or play on risky offshore sites. Our economy will benefit as jobs are created within a growing industry. Our schools and local communities will benefit from new revenue. This is a huge win for our state and its residents.”

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.