Michigan

Sports Betting in Michigan

There are few states in the country as desperate for revenue as Michigan.  Even so, their gambling offerings are limited with most of the benefit going to the state’s Native American tribes.  The state’s first foray into legalized gambling came in 1933 when parimutuel horse race betting was introduced. It’s still legal but Michigan’s last thoroughbred horse track closed down in April 2018.   The last track of any type in Michigan is the Northville Downs Harness Track but it’s likely headed for extinction as well. Reports indicate that the track has been sold to a real estate developer and will close in 2020.  For now, they are claiming that they’ll offer a live harness schedule starting in March 2019.

In 1972, the Michigan Lottery was introduced and today offers draw, scratch off, pull tab and keno games.  The lottery does allow tickets to be purchased online and offers a variety of online instant win games. Also in 1972, charitable bingo games were legalized.

During the 1980s, Michigan’s Native American tribes began to offer high stakes bingo games.  This was initially challenged by the state government all the way to the Supreme Court with the tribes eventually winning.  In 1993, the state signed compacts with the tribes to offer Class 2 (‘bingo style’) slot machines on their land.

The political landscape surrounding gambling changed drastically in 1994 with the opening of the Windsor Casino across the river from Detroit in Ontario.  The casino was a huge success and became particularly popular with Michigan residents. Faced with the loss of even more revenue, the state started to liberalize their gambling laws.  A ballot referendum on expanded casino gambling passed in 1996 and a Gaming Control Board was established in 1997.

Today, there are three land based casinos in Detroit (the MGM Grand Detroit, the Greektown Casino and the MotorCity Casino) offering slots, table games and poker.  There are also nearly two dozen Native American casinos throughout the state offering the same mix of games. The state has also started to address the addition of sports betting under the auspices of the state gaming board though nothing has been formally signed into law.

Sports Betting in Detroit

Detroit has been devastated by a seismic economic shift, boneheaded auto industry management and decades of corrupt city politicians. There are few places in the United States that are in such a mess and books have been written about Detroit’s dire circumstances.   Since 1950, the city has lost 60% of its population and every year only half of the city’s residents bother to pay their property taxes. The city is desperate for anything that will help revive its fortunes and bring in revenues.

Much of the city is a ‘no man’s land’ but there have been pockets of successful revitalization.  The ‘Greektown’ area where three major casino gaming properties are located is one such area. For whatever reason, Detroit still gets a significant amount of tourism with 18 million visitors coming to the city every year.  The hotel casino properties provide lodging and other amenities and the steady stream of visitors keeps the casinos (hopefully) profitable. It was a long road to the expansion of casino gambling rights in Michigan and specifically Detroit.  For many years, the state fought the expansion of Native American gaming. During the 1980s, Michigan’s Native American tribes began to offer high stakes bingo games. This was initially challenged by the state government all the way to the Supreme Court with the tribes eventually winning.  In 1993, the state signed compacts with the tribes to offer Class 2 (‘bingo style’) slot machines on their land.

The political landscape surrounding gambling changed drastically in 1994 with the opening of the Windsor Casino—now known as the Caesars Windsor–across the river from Detroit in Ontario.  The casino was a huge success and became particularly popular with Michigan residents. It is located just 2.3 miles from downtown Detroit via the Windsor Tunnel. Faced with the loss of even more revenue, the state started to liberalize their gambling laws.  A ballot referendum on expanded casino gambling passed in 1996 and a Gaming Control Board was established in 1997.

Today, there are three land based casinos in Detroit (the MGM Grand Detroit, the Greektown Casino and the MotorCity Casino) offering slots, table games and poker.  There are also nearly two dozen Native American casinos throughout the state offering the same mix of games though most are well away from Detroit. The state has also started to address the addition of sports betting under the auspices of the state gaming board though nothing has been formally signed into law.

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