Online gambling including casino games, online poker, and sports betting may well be legalized. Michigan’s legislative session voted on HB4926 at the last minute. The bill got 33 votes in favor and 5 against.
Once the bill is signed by Governor Rick Snyder. He would create an internet gaming division within the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB). The new division will be responsible for issuing online casino, poker, and sports betting licenses to the state-licensed casino operator. Michigan will become the fifth state to legalize and join the ranks of Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.
The passing of the bill is critical as it will generate tax revenues of 8% on gross gaming revenue earned by commercial and gaming tribal operators. The operators will be able to apply for a 5-year license at the cost of $200,000 while; renewal fees are pegged at $100,000. Other important features include co-operation between states, as the bill allows sharing of player pools.
Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition group stated that they are disappointed by the legislature’s action and expect that Gov. Snyder will veto the bill. While, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, stated that people are anyhow going to gamble, so legalizing will mean state benefits.
An older bill was held up over concerns from tribal casino and impact of online gambling on Detroit tax revenue. Tribal casino operators may have to amend their laws to work out a new revenue-sharing agreement as current Federal law does not allow state governments to tax tribal casino revenue if they want to be part of online internet gambling. Another way is tribal operators can apply for online licenses with MGCB.
It will not be a cakewalk even if Gov. Snyder signs the bill. The bill is expected to face challenges from Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), which asks for statewide voter referendum for gambling expansion as per Michigan’s constitution.