Michigan Online Gambling Hearing Shows Promise

by Kyle Miller

MichiganA hearing yesterday discussing online gambling in the state of Michigan shows promise as legislators seem to be on board with approving the activity or at least learning more.

Yesterday, we reported that Michigan legislators were considering once again the legalization of online gambling. Having tried numerous times before, a new bill was introduced this week by Representative Brandt Iden to see online casino and poker gaming legalized and regulated within the state. During the hearing, several groups were represented, including proponents and opponents of the measure. Overall, it seems that the consensus is that legislators are interested and want to learn more on the subject.

Iden Promises Passage

During the House Regulatory Reform Committee hearing, Representative Iden was bold in his statements, commenting that online gambling will become law at some point in time in the state. It is not a matter of if but when. Iden made these remarks as the hearing began. Iden’s bill H 4926 was up for discussion and no vote was taken during the hearing. The Senate version of this bill passed during the spring, so now, the House must move forward before anything else can happen with this measure.

Casinos Are Not In Approval

While it would seem that everyone is interested in online gaming coming to Michigan, that is not the case. There are casinos that are just not interested in the competition, so to speak.  The MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit and Greektown casino are three commercial venues of Michigan who are not interested in seeing online gaming come to fruition in their state. While representatives were not on hand during the hearing for the casinos, they all stated their opposition when the bill was introduced. MGM has stated that they are in support of the concept as it is presented in the bill but have stated nothing further.

There are also tribal interests to consider. There are several tribes operating in the state and none showed up to the hearing yesterday. However, of the twelve tribes, one did state they are opposed to the measure as it is written. The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi stated that they are opposed and will provide constructive feedback on the bill if needed.

So, for now, it may be difficult for online gambling to gain any ground in the state. Casinos need to be on board and the subject of commercial and tribal gaming operations in connection with online gaming must still be considered.

During the hearing, several groups were represented including the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, the Stars Group and Poker Players Alliance. There seemed to be no open opposition by lawmakers during the hearing as questions were asked on the subject of online gambling. Most seemed to be in support of the activity or at least wanting to learn more on the subject.

It seems legislators, including Iden, want to focus on consumer protections first and then revenues. A common argument is that online gambling is taking place in the United States and consumers are not protected due to regulations not being in place or from offshore gaming providers. By legalizing the activity within their borders, Michigan will be able to care for their residents and visitors by provided a regulated online gaming environment.

It will be interesting to see if this measure can move forward and what exactly will take place if the bill moves forward. There is some support, but without casinos and tribal groups fully on board, it may be some time still before Michigan can join the ranks of New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada in offering online casino and poker gaming.