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Michigan Online Gambling Boosted by Committee Hearing

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The state of Michigan is looking forward to legislation in favor of online poker and gambling. During a House Regulatory Reform Committee hearing on March 12, witnesses who appeared for testimony showed an overall positive response towards the 2019 Lawful Internet Gaming Act.

The proposal has been introduced in both the Michigan House and Senate as separate bills. The bill is tagged HB 4311 in the House and is sponsored by Rep. Brandt Iden. In the Senate, the bill is tagged SB 186 and is being pushed by Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. Both the bills were introduced last week.

According to Iden, legislation is beneficial in many ways, and it could help in increasing the much-needed revenue for the state. It can protect Michigan citizens from unregulated websites where they are already holding accounts. Most importantly, it will help the state remain competitive in the new US gambling industry, which has been expanding ever since PASPA was struck down last year.

Iden, who represents the 61st District of Michigan highlighted that his online gambling proposal received favorable votes in both the House and Senate during the last legislative session and it was similar to the HB 4311, and SB 186 presented this year. In 2018, the House vote 71-35 and the Senate voted 33-5 in favor of the gambling legislation. However, the proposals couldn’t see the light of the day as outgoing governor Rick Snyder vetoed them right before leaving office.

Snyder believed that online gambling and poker could be detrimental to the revenue of the Michigan Lottery and the land-based casinos of the state. Iden told the committee that Snyder’s assessment of the situation was wrong as there is a younger demographic of players who play poker and gamble online. Now Governor Gretchen Whitmer has taken office, and she hasn’t supported online gambling outright. Though she hasn’t spoken against it as well, if her primary victory party venue is any hint, which was held at the Motor City Casino in Detroit, Whitmer could be more sympathetic to the cause.

Interestingly, Motor City was one of the three casinos representing the gambling industry at the Tuesday committee hearing along with MGM and Greektown. All witnesses provided by the casino spoke in favor of the two gambling bills. John Pappas, the former executive director of the Poker Players Alliance also appeared as witness and expert on geolocation technology. He said that there are measures in place to keep out-of-staters out of the mix. I-gaming site operators will have to get a license for $200,000 for the first year and $100,000 annually thereafter. The licensed operators will be required to pay 8% tax on the gross gaming revenue.

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