Online Gambling Is Back On The Table in Michigan

by Jim Hall

Representative Brandt IdenA Representative of Michigan has submitted a new online gambling bill for consideration.

2017 seemed like the year that the online gambling industry would see a new state enter the fray. For the past four years now, only three states in the US have been able to offer legalized online gambling options; Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. It seemed as though this year was shaping up to see at least one state pass legislation if not more than one. However, legislation stalled as per usual and now it seems the year will end without anyone making the move to join the others in offering online casino and poker game play.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel so to speak as this week, the state of Michigan seems to be considering online gambling once again. Representative Brandt Iden of Michigan submitted a bill within the House that would see the state offer online gaming options. The news was first reported by Poker Players Alliance, which revealed the introduction of H 4926.

Discussions This Week

According to the Poker Players Alliance, the new bill will be discussed today during a hearing that will take place within the House Regulatory Reform Committee. Iden is the chairman of this committee. On Twitter, the Poker Players Alliance stated that a hearing was on the docket and that the PPA will be testifying during the meeting on the new online gambling bill.

The Poker Players Alliance has been a strong supporter of online gaming, and not just in the poker realm. The group wants to see players of casino and poker gaming have the ability to enjoy their favorite games online in their home state or beyond.

What Does the Bill Entail?

The bill proposed by Iden is similar to a measure created by Senator Mike Kowall from earlier this year. However, the bill does differ in several areas. Most importantly, Iden’s measure clearly defines that operators of tribal gaming must renegotiate state compacts to be able to offer online gambling. With the proposal by Senator Kowall, only casinos with licensing in the state and Indian tribes that were federally recognized and have waived sovereign immunity could take part.

With Iden’s bill, the tribes do not have to waive their sovereign immunity. It basically says that a tribe must be authorized to offer online gambling via a compact with the state based on the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in order to be allowed to move forward.

It seems the tribe and commercial gaming components of the state have been a major issue when it comes to online gaming. Iden’s bill is different but it may not be enough to solve the issues to see the state move forward with iGaming legislation.

Licensing and Fees

H 4926 lists fees on licensing as well as the online gambling tax rate for Michigan. An application fee is due upfront of $100,000 with licensed operators having to pay $200,000 for the first year of a 5 year license along with $100,000 each year after. Licensing for platform providers will last five years as well with $100,000 being paid when the license is first issued. Each year after, the license will have a price tag of $50,000. The upfront fee for licensing is $50,000.

For vendors, licensing will have a fee of $5,000 upfront and then $2,500 to be paid in the years thereafter. This license is also good for five years.

With Iden’s bill, the tax rate would come in at 15%. However, there is a provision in the measure that says the rate can be lowered if the state is able to reach a compact or amends a current compact with a tribal group.

So we shall see this week how the legislation fares during the hearing today and hopefully we will see the state move forward and possibly become the next to offer online gaming in the US.