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Michigan Becomes the Latest US State to Legalise Online Gambling

Michigan Becomes the Latest US State to Legalise Online Gambling

The US’s aversion to online gambling – from those in authority as opposed to those who actually want to gamble – is something that has been well documented. While the rest of the world has taken to online gambling like a duck to water, the US has remained steadfastly opposed to it.

Over the past few years, matters and attitudes seem to have changed, and the state of Michigan has now become the 20th State to legalise online gambling and sports betting. The state becomes only the second Midwest state to take the legal approach, following their sister-state Illinois. People in Michigan could now be free to bet on sports events at regulated sports betting sites in as little as three months.

People in Michigan could be able to wager on sports in as little as three months

The bill to legalise online gambling was signed off by state governor Gretchen Whitmer on Friday, December 20th. A spokesperson for Whitmer told The Detroit News that the governor feels ”optimistic that implementation will be efficient.”

It is hoped that everything will be in place in terms of this new legislation in time to allow people in Michigan to bet on the annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament. This tournament, known as ‘Match Madness’, takes over US sports every March when the leading college basketball teams in America compete to be crowned NCAA champions.

In order for a company to be granted an online sports betting licence, they must already have a casino licence. Online casino licences are usually granted to companies that run and administer real-world casinos. Full requirements have as yet not been established that will create the process for sports betting to be offered to people in Michigan.

Licences are likely only to be issued to companies that run real-world and online casinos

“Sports betting is expected to start with only wagers placed at physical locations within the state’s casinos,” said Marvin Beatty, vice president of community and public relations at Greektown casino.

As part of this legislation, there will be an 8.4% tax on all sporting wagers placed by Michigan residents. The taxes for online sports betting and casino play will be much higher – between 20 and 28%.

It is expected that legalised sports betting will generate over $19 million per annum for the Michigan Department of Treasury. The Treasury has said that most of this taxed betting money will be fed back into the state’s public school system. The rest will go towards funding medical treatments for retired state firefighters who need them.

Legalised sports betting in the US – timeline

October 1992 – the federal government brings in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which prevents states from being able to “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law” the act of gambling on sports. Las Vegas though was exempt from this act, as it was deemed a ‘national commodity’. The act became known as the ‘Bradley Act’ as it was New Jersey’s senator Bill Bradley who was the lead lobbyist for the legalisation of sports betting.

May 2018 – after years of lobbying, the Supreme Court finally decides that the federal government ban on sports betting is unconstitutional. This will allow all 52 states across the US to decide – on a state-by-state basis – to allow sports betting. The final case had been brought by the state of New Jersey, and the federal ban was defeated by six votes to three.

June 2018 – Delaware and New Jersey legalise sports betting.

August 2018 – Mississippi and West Virginia legalise sports betting.

November 2018 – Rhode Island and Pennsylvania legalise sports betting.

May 2019 – Montana legalises sports betting.

June 2019 – Illinois legalises sports betting.

July 2019 – New York, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas legalise online gambling and sports betting.

August 2019 – Iowa and Oregon legalise sports betting.

September 2019 – Indiana legalises sports betting.

December 2019 – Michigan legalises sports betting.

US states where sports betting is still illegal, but in which legislation has been proposed (proposed date of legalisation): Arizona (2020), California (no timeframe), Colorado (2020), Connecticut (no timeframe), Georgia (2020), Hawaii (2020), Kansas (2020), Kentucky (2020 or 2021), Louisiana (2020 or 2021), Maine (no timeframe), Maryland (2020 or 2021), Massachusetts (2020), Minnesota (no timeframe), Missouri (no timeframe), North Dakota (no timeframe), Ohio (no timeframe), Oklahoma (no timeframe), South Carolina (no timeframe), South Dakota (2020 or 2021), Texas (no timeframe), Vermont (no timeframe), Virginia (no timeframe). Washington (2020).

US States where sports betting is still illegal: Alaska, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

The current legal status of sport betting in New Mexico is undetermined, as such betting is neither legal nor is it illegal.


It seemed unfathomable five years ago, but by 2021 all but eight states in the USA could have legalised sports betting and online casino play. This is a massive boost to the industry, given the number of potential new customers this change in attitude has created.

25 Dec. 2019, by

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