Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich announced legislation to decriminalize sports betting pools in Michigan.
“It’s Michigan’s worst-kept secret, especially this time of year,” Sen. Ananich said. “Groups of friends, family members, coworkers and bar buddies have been putting money on their March Madness brackets for years, and my legislation simply states that they are in good legal standing to go ahead and place their bets.”
The bill would exempt low-stakes tournament brackets from the definition of gambling under Michigan law and was announced prior to tip-off in the first rounds of the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments.
The current law is rarely enforced, but placing a bet in a tournament pool can be considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail as well as a maximimum $1,000 fine.
“We’re proud to have five great basketball teams – two men’s and three women’s – representing Michigan on the national stage at March Madness,” said Sen. Ananich, a Michigan State University graduate. “I encourage my colleagues in the legislature to pass these bills quickly so that fans of the Big Dance can have peace of mind knowing that they won’t get dinged over a friendly bet.”
The bill would make it legal in Michigan to wager bets of up to $25 in pool-style bracket competitions of up to 100 individuals. The bill also requires that all bets are paid back to one or more of the participants.