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Hotly anticipated: Michigan to legalize four categories of online gambling

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Michigan has a vibrant gambling scene, with some form of the activity having been present in the state since the early 20th century. There are many regulations that keep the gambling industry up to standard and ensure that everything is legal and safe for consumers. At times, this has made knowing what is and isn’t legal a little difficult, but new legislation has made this much more simple.

Four new categories of online gambling are expected to be fully legal by March of next year, if all goes to plan. Both the Senate and the House have already passed the bills, which will now need to be passed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Although the forms of gambling may be legal, this does not mean that they’ll be completely available to the public by March 2024. Before this, related rules must be written up, licenses must be obtained, and the right technology has to be up-to-date and accessible.

One of the most hotly anticipated types of gambling to be introduced is online casinos. Although online casinos are relatively new, there have been countless new additions to industry in the US, with more popping up all the time. As they rise in popularity, more and more states are open to legalizing and accommodating online casino operators. The proposed legislation will permit lots of casino games, including poker and slot machines, and can only be managed by existing Michigan casinos. One of the conditions of online casinos being legalized is that an Internet Gaming Fund will be created, with relevant taxes and fees to be paid into this.

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Next up is sports betting, which can now be offered online or in-person by any pre-existing casino in Michigan. Sportsbooks already exist in the state, with the first having been made legal in March 2020, but this new legislation will remove any gray area or confusion. The only rule that needs to be followed is that any resident partaking in sports wagering must be 21 or over. Part of the incentive behind legalizing sports betting is that taxes on it can now be put back into the state: 30% of taxes will be put back into the city that the operator is in, on sectors like public safety and policing. Leftover taxes after this will be put into either the Internet Sports Betting Fund or to the Michigan horse racing industry.

Fantasy leagues, which are made up of games where players create teams and compete against others to win money or other prizes, are very popular in Michigan, and will be legal to play come March. With this legalization will come new rules and regulations, however. Firstly, the Fantasy Contests Consumer Protection Act will come into play, with the purpose of regulating certain fantasy games such as NFL football. It’s likely that an influx of fantasy contest operators will start to spring up, as operators do need a license, but do not need to be existing casino operators (as with other forms of online gambling in Michigan). For enthusiasts who may have their own leagues or contests with friends, no legislation is required, as long as there are no more than 15 people taking part and no more than $10,000 in entry fees.

Last but not least is horse racing, which was made legal in 1995 with the Horse Racing Law. Under this law, pari-mutuel wagering on licensed simulcast and live horse races in Michigan was permitted. The new rules will also allow “third-party facilitators” to, once licensed, take electronic bets on the outcome of horse racing. With this updated legislation, and that pertaining to the other forms of online gambling, there is talk that Michigan could become something of a hotspot for gambling enthusiasts, both for residents and those further afield!

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