Whitmer’s Budget Proposal Includes More Money for Gambling Issues

Whitmer’s Budget Proposal Includes More Money for Gambling Issues
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proposed allocating nearly $6 million in additional funding to handle the increased needs arising from expanded gaming.

The Democratic governor included that spending in the budget proposal she unveiled to the state legislature on Wednesday. Most of that money, $4 million, would bolster services for problem gambling treatment and prevention.

Lawmakers passed an expanded gaming bill in 2019, with online Michigan sports betting and Michigan iGaming launching statewide in January 2021. The state has 15 licensed online sports betting operators and 15 licensed internet casinos.

“With the legalization of online betting, opportunities to gamble are more easily accessible than ever before,” the governor’s office wrote in the budget’s briefing papers. “With this increased access, the state anticipates increased reliance on gambling disorder services, which have not kept pace with expansions in online gaming. Therefore, Michigan’s gambling disorder program enhancements are necessary to ensure services are appropriately aligned with current and future treatment needs.”

According to the state’s budget book, casino gaming taxes generated $59.3 million in general fund revenue for the 2023 fiscal year, and that’s expected to increase to $68.5 for this cycle, which runs through Sept. 30. The budget anticipates that to exceed $70 million in each of the next two years. Michigan online casinos are a rarity in the U.S.; only a handful of states have legal iGaming.

Gaming provides even more for the state’s education coffers. The casino wagering tax provided $102.7 million in FY 2023 and is projected to reach $104.8 million this year. Taxes on iGaming, sports betting and fantasy sports added $327.2 million in 2023, with the amount estimated to rise to $348.4 million this year. The governor’s office expects taxes on those gaming markets to go up to $361.7 million in FY 2025 and $370 million the following year.

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Increased Spending for Administration

The rest of Whitmer’s gaming proposal would give the Michigan Gaming Control Board $1.9 million to handle the increased regulatory workload. That money also will help the state investigate and stop illegal gambling activities.

MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams thanked Whitmer for the proposed funding. He said the state’s regulatory body supports both measures as they would develop “a stronger, socially responsible gambling industry” in the state.

“The proposed budget’s allocation for expanding the MGCB’s iGaming regulatory capacity is a significant step forward in safeguarding consumers and deterring illegal activities within Michigan’s online gambling sector,” Williams said. “As iGaming continues to grow in popularity, enhanced regulatory oversight becomes indispensable in protecting vulnerable Michigan citizens, preventing money laundering, and mitigating the risks of fraudulent practices.”

Whitmer’s proposal starts the legislative process to pass the next budget, which will take effect on Oct. 1. Michigan lawmakers are expected to review the budget through the spring and develop their own recommendations. After that, the governor’s office and legislature will begin discussions that will lead to a final budget agreement being reached in the summer.

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Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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