Online Gambling Bill Moves Forward in Michigan

by Jim Hall

Michigan Online GamblingAn online gambling bill introduced in Michigan has passed a Senate Committee vote.

With so many states interested in passing online gambling legislation this year, it seems almost every day there is something new to report. In the past, news seemed to revolve around Pennsylvania and California when it came to online gaming news. Now, it seems other states are moving into the mix and are making waves, with anyone being the next possible state to enter the online gambling industry of the US. Just this week, legislation in Michigan was able to move forward after a positive Senate Committee vote.

iGambling Bill Moves Forward

On Wednesday, an online gambling bill introduced in Michigan was able to see a positive vote in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee to move forward for the next step in the legislative process. S 0203 was created by Senator Mike Kowall and would allow for online gaming to be legalized as well as regulated in the state. Player protections would be put in place and the state would have a new source of revenues to pull from if the bill is signed into law.

It is not a surprise that the measure was voted forward as the majority of the members within the committee are also co-sponsors of the measure. Kowall has done his homework and after failing to see similar legislation that he introduced move forward last year, he made even more efforts to see legislation pass this year.

Lawmakers of the state were in attendance during the hearing on Wednesday along with representatives of online gaming site PokerStars and members of the Poker Players Alliance. While proponents were in the mix, those opposed were also in attendance. The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling also had members at the hearing to listen in as the lawmakers discussed the new measure.

S 0203 has key language that defines itself as a way to fight unauthorized online gambling in the state, protecting consumers and providing tax revenue with the legalization and regulation of online gaming. Proponents of the activity have pointed out that players in the state already take part in online gaming but on the black market where they are not protected. Without protections, player’s funds can be lost and the state is losing out on any revenues that could be generated without proper regulations in place.

Casinos Not on Board

Kowall will need legislative support to see his measure continue to move forward Legislature but he will also need the support of local casinos. Senator Tony Rocca is the Regulatory Reform Committee Chair who stated that local tribal gambling establishments are opposed to the idea of the online gambling bill. Rocca revealed this information during the hearing.

With the measure created by Kowall, the local tribes will have the ability to offer online gambling if the bill is made law. The senator may need to work on the tribal groups to show the how they could benefit in order to gain more support for the measure. Like other states, Michigan would allow land based casino license holders to obtain an online gaming license and partner with a platform provider to create a gaming site. Land based venues have to show interest in order for this to work.

The MGM Grand Detroit is a commercial casino of the state that seems to be neutral on the topic as of right now. If the measure is able to move forward, we may see more of an opinion form from the gaming provider.

The Senate now has the ability to move the measure forward or let the bill die as a similar measure did in 2016.