The American Midwest is now pushing for sports betting legalization and Michigan could be the first state to allow wagers legally within its boundaries. However, the controversial integrity fee agenda pushed by sports leagues could become a reality here, according to one Rep.
Integrity fee allows sports leagues to get a portion of the sports wagering revenues back into their pockets. State Rep. Brandt Iden believes that Michigan could make provisions for integrity fee payments to the leagues. Speaking during a conference in Washington DC, he noted that the new sports betting legalization bill could make provisions for such payments by betting operators.
If the bill becomes law, Michigan will become the first state to allow these payments. Currently, the seven states taking sports bets and others in the process of adding wagers have not any provisions for the fee. Iden, who chairs the Regulatory Reform Committee in the Michigan House of Representatives said that his meetings with the leagues have motivated him to back the fee. Citing examples of other countries, he said that the US could follow a similar rule.
The leagues suggest that they needed a portion of the betting revenue, so they could educate athletes and league officials about sports gambling and ways to protect themselves against malicious intentions. The leagues are pushing the fee, especially the NBA, MLB, and PGA Tour. The lobbying for the same began much before the Supreme Court ordered the demise of PASPA.
Most state legislatures weren’t moved by the arguments presented by the leagues. Nevada, the state which has taken bets for decades called the fees unnecessary, saying that the game dynamics don’t change just because betting has now spread its wings across the US. Lawmakers rejected the idea in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Mississippi as well. Native American operated casino in New Mexico also brushed away the idea.
The government doesn’t want the integrity fee because it reduces the tax available to them. A 10 percent tax on casino winnings could be compromised if the fee is levied. When the leagues couldn’t find a footing with the ‘educational’ angle, they started pedaling the idea of ‘fairness’ by imposing the integrity fee. That too appears to have gained little momentum in the US.
The Wolverine state now holds the responsibility of changing the direction of the argument. If it includes integrity fee, it could open a world of opportunity for the leagues. The state has elected Democrats to the upper chamber which could change the way the industry is regulated.