Bill gives OK to social tournament bracket betting
LANSING, Mich. —Today, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint) announced legislation to decriminalize sports betting pools in Michigan. The bill, which would exempt low-stakes tournament brackets from the definition of gambling under Michigan law, was announced prior to tip-off in the first rounds of the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments.
“It’s Michigan’s worst-kept secret, especially this time of year,” Sen. Ananich said. “Groups of friends, family members, coworkers and bar buddies have been putting money on their March Madness brackets for years, and my legislation simply states that they are in good legal standing to go ahead and place their bets.”
The thousands of Michiganders who participate in March Madness basketball bracket pools with family and friends are often unaware of this prohibition because it is rarely, if ever, prosecuted. Though the current law is seldom enforced, placing a bet in a tournament pool can be considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a maximum $1,000 fine.
The bill would make it legal in Michigan to wager bets of up to $25 in pool-style bracket competitions of up to 100 individuals. The bill also requires that the entire sum of the bets be paid back to one or more of the participants.
“We’re proud to have five great basketball teams – two men’s and three women’s – representing Michigan on the national stage at March Madness,” said Sen. Ananich, a Michigan State University graduate. “I encourage my colleagues in the legislature to pass these bills quickly so that fans of the Big Dance can have peace of mind knowing that they won’t get dinged over a friendly bet.”
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