Summary: Does Michigan still have a chance to legalize online gambling this year?
The state of Michigan was one that showed promise in 2019 when it comes to online gambling legislation. Last year, lawmakers worked hard to craft legislation involving the industry and both the House and Senate were on board. The bill managed to reach the desk of the outgoing Governor, Rick Synder, and everyone expected the bill to be signed. However, the legislation was vetoed and lawmakers were left to pick up the pieces and essentially start over with their efforts.
An Unexpected Veto
Senator Mike Kowall was heavily involved in the process, having worked tirelessly on the online gambling legislation, in the hopes of seeing the activity come to pass in the state. It came as a big blow when the Governor decided to veto the option as he was leaving the office. Having spoke with Online Poker Report recently, Senator Kowall stated that he is still trying to understand why the governor chose to veto the bill. He is trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but having spent so much time crafting the bill, it was disheartening that it was not signed into law.
The reason Snyder decided to veto the bill was due to feeling that real money online gambling would be considered an illegal expansion of gambling for the state. The Governor also stated that the lottery revenues need to be protected because it helps the public schools of the state.
Kowall feels that the argument of the governor is weak because the state already has online gaming via the lottery. The games are online lottery and not sports betting or poker. In other states, such industries have proven to be successful because each game is played by a different grouping of people.
Lawmakers like Kowall must now move forward, trying yet again to se legislation passed into law. The new governor of the state, Gretchen Whitmer, has officially taken office, but has yet to announce to the public if she is in favor of online gambling. During her campaign for governor, she did say that she was supportive of sports betting for the state.
It seems that if legislation is reintroduced within the House, it will have the support needed to move forward. If the Senate and House stay on the same page, then it could lead to the bill moving quickly to the new governor’s desk. Hopefully, she will sign the bill into law and the state can get started with the new industry.
Representative Brandt Iden has been a strong supporter of online gambling, having introduced legislation as well. Kowall is no longer in office within the state but will continue to help support the mission of legalization. Iden will continue to push for online gambling but does feel that the new lawmakers coming into office due to the midterm elections may need to learn more before being agreeable to legislation.
For now, efforts will have to begin anew in the state. This will be a setback, but if legislators are able to move quickly, the state could still see online gambling come to fruition this year. All eyes will be on Michigan as they try to make it happen as well as any other states that might be able to see iGaming come to pass.