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Legalized sports betting in Michigan begins Wednesday, just in time for NCAA basketball tournament

Las Vegas sportsbook
Wikimedia Commons

Years of debate, speculation and waiting for betting enthusiasts will come to an end Wednesday, as state regulators announced Friday that the first legal sports betting in Michigan will officially begin this week inside three Michigan casinos.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board plans to give final approval Tuesday. The three commercial casinos are expected to go live Wednesday at 1 p.m., and just in time for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, which ranks as the 2nd most bet-on sports event in the country after the Super Bowl, according to the World Casino Index. 

Michael J. Huff is an attorney at Grand Rapids based law firm Mika Meyers. He says like the legalization of recreational marijuana, legalizing sports betting will put the power and revenue streams into the hands of the state, and out of the hands of the black market. 

"This was part of the reason we were able to get bi-partisan support for this bill," Huff said. "We know that there is already a lot of black market sports betting occurring in the state of Michigan, and the government's goal is to...pull (back) the curtain and to bring this into a regulatory regime where the state can oversee things...in the long run, this is going to be better for the state than it is the bookies." 

The three casinos are just the first, online and mobile sports wagering are expected to start sometime in 2021, while onsite sports betting at tribal casinos is not regulated by the state. They will announce their launch of sports wagering individually.