YOSHONIS: Want the roads in Michigan to get fixed? Place your bets!

Delaware Gov. John Carney displays a ten dollar bill before using it to place a bet on a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, inside the Race and Sports Book at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino in Dover, Del.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Delaware Gov. John Carney displays a ten dollar bill before using it to place a bet on a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, inside the Race and Sports Book at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino in Dover, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Sports gambling has been around as long as there have been sports.

Why it took until 2018 for the United States of America to understand this is beyond me, but the fact remains, gambling on sports is now finally legal in this country.

There was a federal ban on sports betting in the United States from 1992 to 2018 under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The 1992 law granted immunity to four states that had previously allowed sports betting inside their borders. Those states are Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana.

The state of New Jersey challenged the legality of PASPA. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in late 2017. On May 14, the high court issued a decision reversing the ban, striking down PASPA in full by a vote of 6-3.

Several states have already seen sports books start handling wagers, but Michigan is not one of them, and may not be for a while.

In 2017, legislation was introduced to amend the state’s current gaming control law. Michigan’s proposed bill would allow any holder of a casino license to “accept wagers on sporting events.” The state’s gaming board would be required to “promulgate rules to regulate the conduct of sports betting under this act.”

But so far, nothing has come of it.

While that’s sad for those of us who like to bet on sports, it might not be such a bad thing in the long run. It gives state lawmakers a chance to stop and think about how best to go forward with sports gambling in Michigan.

If they were smart (the biggest of “ifs,” I know), they would grab a large chunk of the sports-gambling pie for themselves and use the money for desperately needed infrastructure in the state.

I propose that the State of Michigan set up a sports gambling section of the state lottery, and create and exploit a near-monopoly on sports betting in the state.

I say near-monopoly because I’m pretty sure that any of the tribal casinos in the state can open up a sports book any time they want to, now that the federal law against it has been struck down. But I’m no lawyer.

I’m also no accountant, but I do know that there is money to be made in the sports gambling business.

Last year, Nevada’s sports books raked in a record $248.8 million in revenue from a total of $4.87 billion wagered on sporting events.

That quarter-of-a-billion dollar windfall benefitted the pockets of the casino owners. Just think if that kind of cash could benefit us all.

While it would take a while for Michigan to get to those kinds of numbers, if it ever could (that was a record for Nevada, after all), there is little doubt that there are millions of dollars to be had, that could be used for road repairs, education, feeding the hungry or any number of things that the state in its fiscal wisdom says it has no money for at the moment.

Is $100 million a reasonable number to shoot for? Would $10 million be welcome in the state coffers?

The answer to both of those questions is Yes, in my opinion.

The next question is, why would the state pass up tens of millions of dollars of free money every year for the foreseeable future?

I have no answer for that one.

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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