That Michigan’s roads are in a terrible condition is a widely accepted fact, but the state does not have funds left over in its budget to fix them. Democratic Representative, Robert Kosowski has a suggestion to solve the problem of the state’s roads and it involves using sports betting to generate funds to make up for the shortfall in the budget. In fact, the lawmaker stressed the need to come up with unusual methods to find the money to fix the state’s collapsing road system as he presented a proposal to the House Regulatory Reform Committee.
The bill in question, HB 4669, will permit casinos in Michigan to accept bets on sporting events in the event that Federal law allows it any time in the future. Sports wagering is permitted in four states only as of now. Apart from Nevada, the other states that permit sports betting are Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. New Jersey is trying to get in on the action and it has passed a law to this effect, but it is facing a large number of legal challenges from the sporting establishment in the United States who are firmly set against the legalisation of sports betting.
The proposed Michigan bill has a long way to go before it can come into effect. For one, three quarters of the legislature would have to support it in order for it to be passed. Furthermore, since this is a voter-initiated law, it would be necessary to go back to them in order to get the changes approved. Another problem could arise as a result of a conflict of interest with tribal groups.
Democratic Representative Scott Dianda raised this issue during a discussion about the proposed law because there are serious concerns that relationship with tribal groups, already strained, could worsen. The State of Michigan is already embroiled in a compact dispute with the Gun Lake Tribe as a result of which it is not receiving any money from the tribe. This has already resulted in job losses at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Rep. Kosowski admitted that he hadn’t as yet had discussions with Native American bodies about the proposed bill since it was still in its nascent stages. However, he underlined the importance of passing the bill into law since it would permit the state to generate tax revenues from a well-defined and lucrative source. It is an open secret that sports betting goes on illegally in the United States; making it legal would not only permit the state to earn much needed revenues, but it would also help bring the business under the regulatory eye of government bodies.
While there are a few companies that offer reliable sports betting products, a big chunk of the business is run by illegal players who do not provide a proper betting experience to customers. The illegal betting industry in Michigan is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but the state stands to lose $31.4 million if it is determined that tribal gaming compacts have been violated. Lawmakers, therefore, have to proceed with caution on this important issue.