In 1991, Michigan became the first state in the nation to pass legislation to prohibit a state-sponsored lottery from including games based on the results of sporting events. A bill introduced by Representative Keith Muxlow of Brown City passed both the Michigan House and Senate without a dissenting vote and was signed by Governor Engler Dec. 18, 1991.
The effort was assisted by the Michigan Coalition to Ban Legalized Sports Betting, a broad-based group of athletic, educational, religious and civic organizations which then turned its attention to helping pass federal legislation needed to fully protect Michigan’s professional and amateur sporting events from the influences of gambling in other states.
The federal legislation that resulted, on the books for 25 years, was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 14, 2018.
There are currently eight bills pending in the Michigan Legislature that would expand gambling in the state of Michigan, including several that would legalize sports betting or fantasy sports wagering and allow the Michigan Lottery to handle those bets.
It is impossible to know all the consequences – positive and negative – of expanding legalized gambling in our society generally and on sports particularly. However, we can imagine that as every decision and action of players, coaches and officials influences statistics and determines winners and losers of both contests and wagers, fans will become increasingly cynical of individual and team performances where sports betting is allowed.
And, more than ever, school-based sports will stand apart from the charade or corruption of sports on all other levels by all other sponsors. You can bet on it.