Michigan Has Odd Online Gambling Bill Under Consideration

by Jim Hall

MichiganThe state of Michigan is currently considering passing online gambling legislation but gaming would only be able to take place inside a casino venue.

Across the United States, several individual states are working to pass online gambling legislation. From Pennsylvania to California and New York, many states have shown interest in offering online casino and poker gaming to their residents and visitors. In the three states that offer online gaming and most of those considering legislation, players have to be located within state borders in order to take part in the gaming options online for real money. Just recently, online gaming legislation was introduced in Michigan which would allow activities to take place online, but with one discrepancy. Players would have to be located in a casino to do so.

Odd Legislation

As with any state that offers online gambling, geolocation technology is used to determine that the player in within the borders of the state. If they are, then they are allowed to enjoy online casino gaming. This would normally be the path that any state in the US would take to offer online gaming. However, Michigan is taking a different approach.

The bill on the table would allow online gambling to take place but players would be limited to being inside a gaming venue to take part. Analysts feel that this stipulation may limit the potential earnings the state would be able to make as well as hurt the tax dollars needed for Detroit.

Proponents of the measure feel that the bill will work to bring new tax revenues to the state. There are currently three commercial casinos in Detroit as well as casinos owned and operated by American Indian tribes. These gaming venues would be able to offer online gaming and players could log online when visiting.

The legislation is currently in the state Senate and if passed into law would make Michigan the fourth state in the US to offer some form of online gambling. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey all allow for online casino, online poker gaming or both, but from anywhere within the state. The purpose of online gambling is to be able to do it from anywhere. The restriction in Michigan seems a bit silly and makes one wonder why players would log online if they are already at the casino?

Legislative Challenges

In 2004, a constitutional amendment was adopted that requires a vote within the public if an expansion of gambling is to take place. Unless, the gaming option is to take place at the Detroit casinos or the tribal gaming venues. A ballot initiative could be created if there is enough push to see online gambling offered throughout the state. However, it seems the push now is to allow it only within the confines of the gaming venues.

The bill may also see contention between the casinos in Detroit and the tribal casinos. The tribes are not happy that they have to give up their sovereign immunity in order to obtain online gaming licensing.

According to Senator Mike Kowall, the requirement to offer the gaming option in a land based casino would bring uniformity as well as a stable environment to the black-market system where there is little protection at the present time. However, on the other side, one could say that players will still play at black market sites so they can do so from home, rather than having to travel to a casino, that might be clear across the state.

Overall, it will be interesting to see if this legislation will move forward or if another bill will be introduced to offer online gambling across the state. Only time will tell if Michigan will be the next to offer some form or online gambling or if the process will continue.