Skubick: Sports betting bill could beat the odds this year


State lawmakers are putting the finishing touches on legalized sports and Internet gaming which means when it’s Super Bowl time  thousands of citizens in the state could put a legal bet on the game for the first time.

Republican Speaker of the House Rep. Lee Chatfield said, “gambling happens everyday whether we realize it or not. We need more regulations.”

Lawmakers have concluded since the black market is making all the profits from sports betting why not try to put organized crime out of business and take those profits for state schools.

“Sports betting is happening and millions are being bet everyday and organized crime is on that and actually winning right now,” explained Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr.  “But by providing a safe and legal system you are actually giving a big hit to organized crime.”

A Senate committee adopted ten bills that legalize sports and Internet gaming starting as soon as the governor signs it.

For months the governor opposed these bills because she feared Internet gambling would siphon profits from the state I-lottery which sends money to schools.

But with an 8.4% tax rate on sports betting and up to a 23% tax on Internet gaming the public education lobby won’t lose any state aid.

Jennifer Smith of the Michigan School Board Association explains, “she wanted to make sure the school aid fund was not harmed. It’s our understanding when all the pieces in this giant puzzle come together, that is all going to work out.”

Skubick: “But this is not a pot of gold?”

Smith: “It’s never a pot of gold.”

So how much gold is in the pot?

Bill sponsor Rep. Brant Iden says, “that’s been the question. I think we could see between $80 and $150 million on this, but in other states projections have been higher than expected so I think we could see even more money at the end of the day.”

There’s $1.5 million in the bill to deal with problem gamblers who can’t stop but what about kids who live on their iPhones? What’s to stop them from betting, too?

“Kids are at risk now today,” says Rep. Chatfield. “What we’re doing is putting more restraints and parameters to make sure we are regulating it properly.”

The governor is expected to sign the package.

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