HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 23Issue 32Michigan Senate Considers Fantasy Sports Bill

The Senate Regulatory Reform Committee held a hearing October 11, 2017 regarding SB 461(amending the penal code to allow fantasy sports betting) and SB 462(setting forth the conditions and regulation of fantasy sports betting in Michigan). 

Senator Curtis Hertel testified in support of both bills.  He began by explaining that fantasy sports involved using real-life knowledge to predict certain sporting events.  He noted that fantasy baseball started nearly 40 years ago and that currently 1.6MM people in the State of Michigan play some sort of fantasy sports games.  He conceded that the current legal status of playing such games is a “gray area” and that players may be breaking the law by participating, hence the current legislation to amend the penal code and to provide protections for current players.  He characterized the protections as a new “consumer protection act” for fantasy sports players.  He noted that the legislation has provisions to allow players to self-report similar to problem gambling programs utilized by the Detroit casinos and the Michigan lottery.  Senators Hune and Macgregor raised questions about the current legality of fantasy platers and coordination with Michigan’s Indian Tribes.  

Scott Ward, representing Fanduel and Draftkings, testified in support of the bill.  He noted that people have played fantasy sports for over 40 years and roughly 53MM people across the United States currently play.  He testified that 16 states have enacted legislation approving fantasy sports and argued that fantasy sports are skill-based, not chance-based. 

Representatives of the Detroit casinos testified or submitted cards indicating that they were in favor of the concept of legislation governing fantasy sports but were against the current version of the legislation.

Dave Murley, Deputy Director of the MGCB, also testified.  He offered three thoughts: (1) the MGCB should be the regulator, noting that it has extensive experience with protections for players and in dealing with multi-level corporate entities; (2) the Michigan Constitutional provision requires a statewide referendum on expansion of gambling and indicated that there should be some discussion whether fantasy sports would fall under its provisions; and (3) the current legislation is a “minimalist approach”.  He queried whether Michigan should be getting revenue from the operators and whether they should be required to contribute to problem gambling funding as the Detroit casinos, horse tracks and lottery currently do.

Sen. Hertel reiterated that he was open to language suggestions and again welcomed any suggestions, hopefully within 1 week.  No vote was taken on the bills and no amendments were considered.


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