Online Gambling Legislation Moves Forward in Michigan


MichiganThe Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee advanced legislation this week that would see online gaming approved for the state.

It seems that efforts to expand online gambling further within the United States are afoot as the Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee has decided to advance a piece of legislation that would see online gambling legalized in the state. Just a few weeks ago Pennsylvania became the first state since 2013 to approve online gaming for their residents. Michigan is now moving forward with their legislation and hopefully we will see a snowball effect where even more states push legislation to legalize casino and poker gaming online.

H 4926

Back in September, Representative Brandt Iden decided to introduce H 4926, a measure that will allow iGaming in the state. The House Regulatory Reform Committee held a vote on the measure this week, choosing to approve the bill with a vote of 12 to 3. There was one pass vote. Iden is the chair of this committee.

The bill would provide an alternative way to see online gambling take place in the state aside from legislation that was introduced by Senator Mike Kowall. The senator’s legislation has stalled within the Senate.

Iden’s bill was amended several times in the past and included a compromise for tribal operators of gaming services. This bill was halted within the Senate and the same questions asked as to the constitutionality of the measure as well as the issue of lack of support from tribal and commercial interests. Iden stated that yesterday, stakeholder meetings were held to work out the concerns involving the bill.

How Has the Bill Been Amended?

The amendments made to the measure will hopefully allow the bill to move forward. Two key points are that the servers for online gambling operations will be located in casinos and a new tax distribution scheme was created. With the servers required on-site at a casino will help to defeat the argument that online gambling is not an expansion of gaming that requires an amendment to the constitution. Instead, it is being called a new product that will be offered by and within the existing casinos of the state.

With the new tax setup, the goal seems to be earning support from stakeholders. There are three commercial casinos in the state and the bill needs their support in order to see it move forward. The operators have not been very receptive to the idea in the past. However, during the hearing within the Committee, the gaming venues have now changed their tune and are supportive of the measure. Yet, tribal gaming operators are not in favor.

The tax scheme will see only 10% paid in taxes by online gaming operators, a significant drop from the former 15% rate. The Committee was also able to move forward two companion bills, H 4927 and H 4928 this week.

Despite the positive outcome of the bills this week, it is a little late to be pushing for online gambling bill passage. Tomorrow is literally the last day of the current legislative session in the state. The bill would still have to be approved by the full House and Senate to move to the Governor’s desk for approval.

Thankfully, the state is one that allows bills to move over, so H 4926 will be able to continue in 2018 from its point now in 2017. We may see that Michigan is the next state to legalize online gaming and 2018 will kick off with a big push in the industry for the United States.