Sports betting in talks to become legal in the state

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In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled all sports betting illegal in most states. In May, they got rid of that law opening the door for a lot of states to explore sports betting, including Michigan.

There are now bills going through Lansing to legalize sports betting in the state including online sports betting and fantasy sports betting.

Alex McRae is a senior at Michigan State. He plays fantasy football and baseball.

“I started probably my freshman year of high school,” he said.

While he said it’s competitive, he usually doesn’t bet.

“It really depends on the money you throw in if any at all,” McRae said. “If there is more than typically $20 than it’s pretty competitive.”

If the new bills pass, he would be able to try it more often.

“There would be a time or two where I might find myself in a casino and there’s a game that’s on and I’m bored and I might throw $5 on it,” he said.

Ron Fisher, MSU professor of economics, has studied lotteries and teaches a class at MSU about the business of sports.

He said it wouldn’t bring in the amount of money people probably think.

“90 to 95% percent of the money gets paid out in prizes,” he said. “Five to 10% percent gets retained by the gambling entity.”

That small percentage is then taxed by the state.

In the 2019, the state’s fiscal revenue was $969 million, Ron Leix of the Michigan Department of Treasury told Focal Point News.

The lottery only contributed roughly 4%.

Fisher said a concern is if it will take away business from other forms of gambling.

“The state lottery generates a lot more for government than sports betting ever would,” he said.