Michigan Senator Hopes Online Gambling Will Be Approved

by Kyle Miller

Senator Mike KowallSenator Mike Kowall is not ready to give up hope on online gambling being legalized in Michigan.

This year, several states in the US have been considering entering the online gambling industry. It has been several years since we have seen a state enter the fray, with Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey having legalized some form of gambling in 2013. Included in the list of states interested in online gambling for 2017, is Michigan. In March, Senator Mike Kowall of Michigan introduced a measure that would legalize online gambling for the state. However, this bill did not gain any traction. Reportedly, the senator is not ready to give up hope yet and may introduced an amended version of the bill first introduced in March.

Drafted Legislation

Since June, a draft of amendments made to the legislation have been making the rounds in legislature. Kowall wanted more input and recommendations before he puts forth a stronger piece of legislation. So far, no new amended version of the bill has been released.

Kowall was interviewed by Gambling Compliance this week and revealed that he remains optimistic on the issue an admits that the process is taking time. There are still factors that are blocking legislation from moving forward. For starters, the constitutionality of the measure has been questioned. Can the bill be passed into law without changes to the constitution?

Secondly, the commercial casinos of Michigan and the tribal groups will need to come to a compromise as to how online gambling should take place. On top of these two points, Governor Rick Snyder has yet to say if he is for or against the measure. Tom Leonard, the Republican House Speaker, has stated htat he is not a fan of online gambling and will most likely be a roadblock legislatively.

The House Gets Involved

On top of the Senators efforts, the House is now getting involved in the potential for Michigan to begin offering online gaming. Representative Brandt Iden introduced gambling legislation recently in hopes of repairing the issues that were raised with the introduction of Kowall’s measure. Among such issues included how to provide for the tribal gaming operators without harming the commercial casinos in the state.

An informational hearing was provided just after Iden introduced his bill with testimony largely in favor of online gaming taking place. According to Iden, it is not a matter of if online gambling will come to fruition in the state but a matter of when. However, there are those who are opposed and are not convinced that the language of Iden’s bill is in compliance with the state constitution.

Michigan has three commercial casinos, all in operation in Detroit. Motor City, MGM Detroit and Greektown are all three in opposition of the bill as it is written currently. The only tribal group to speak out against the measure was the Nottawaweppi Huron Band of Potawatomi tribe. Other tribes have yet to weigh in.

So, how would online gambling work and will the state ever pass legislation? It’s anyone’s guess. So many factors are involved it does not seem as though legislators will be able to come to compromises in regards to such issues as the commercial/tribal interests in order to see legislation pass this year. There is still time left so it is possible, but time and time again we have seen states come so close to passing a measure to join the online gaming industry only to see the bill shot down in some form or fashion before becoming law.