Online Gambling Bill Passes Michigan House
The Michigan state House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would legalize online gambling plus sports betting. H 4926, introduced by State Rep. Brandt Iden, was approved by a 68-40 and now moves on to the Senate for consideration, though that will not be until September, after the Senate’s summer break.
“The way people game is moving more and more to the online platform,” said Iden in a statement to the media. “Everything we do today is moving to an online platform, and that’s exactly what this does. It takes the same games that you can play inside the casino and now puts them online and regulates it from a standpoint of … you can now do it legally.”
In a brief press release on his legislative website, Iden said,
“People in Michigan are already gambling over the internet, but they are doing so at risky and illegal websites. The Michigan websites will have strict state oversight, unlike the illegal and unregulated sites our resident use now, at great risk to their finances and personal information.”
The bill would create the Division of Internet Gaming, a subsection of the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB). Casinos who wished to get in on internet gambling would have to pay a $100,000 application fee, $200,000 for the first license, and a $100,000 renewal fee each year. Tax on gross gaming revenue would be 8 percent.
Iden expanded on the tax in his press release, saying,
“Our plan calls for 8 percent of gross gaming revenue to go to the state and local communities, the School Aid Fund and the Michigan Transportation Fund. We are boosting revenue for essential public services without asking for more money through general taxes.”
As is the case in most states that either have already legalized online gambling or have at least introduced bills to do so, only the brick-and-mortar casinos in Michigan would be permitted to operate gaming sites. They would be allowed to partner with software providers, though, so it would be possible for, say, 888 or partypoker to get involved. The bill does provide for interstate compacts to share liquidity.
As with many states there are sometimes conflicts between the tribal casinos, the gaming commission, and non-tribal casinos. In Michigan, there are 26 casinos, with all but the three Detroit properties being tribal. The tribes had wanted a clause built into the bill which would have deleted the online gaming and sports betting industry in the state if the federal government ever banned tribes from offering such gambling. From my brief scan of the bill, it doesn’t look like that is in the current version, but I am admittedly not enough of an expert to be sure.
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