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Michigan Online Poker Legislation Gains Momentum

Posted on by Tim Hernandez

MichiganA revised online poker and gambling bill that includes sports betting is reportedly in the works in Michigan, with Representative Brandt Iden making a push to gather support among his House colleagues in an effort to bring the proposal up for a vote in the near future.

The revised bill is a follow-up to HB 4926 that Iden introduced to the House Regulatory Reform Committee in 2017. Despite Iden’s optimism regarding the measure’s prospects of passing last year, progress on the proposal was slowed and not much had been said publicly about the issue throughout the first few months of 2018.

However, an amended version of HB 4926 that lowers gross gaming revenue taxes almost in half to 8% is now picking up some steam, according to Gambling Compliance. Also jumping on the bandwagon in support of the new proposal is the Poker Players Alliance. The grassroots organization has taken to social media to notify their followers in Michigan that online gambling is once again a hot topic.

A New Arm of the Michigan Gaming Control Board

Entitled the Michigan Lawful Internet Gaming Act, HB 4926 as previously introduced by Iden and co-sposored by Representatives Robert Kosowski, Kathy Crawford, and Klint Kesto sought to establish a new agency within the Michigan Gaming Control Board known as the Michigan Internet Gaming Division. The new division would oversee licensing and all online gambling activities.

The bill restricts online gambling to players physically located within the Wolverine State. However, it does allow Michigan to enter into agreements with other states to increase player pools, but forbids coupling with any jurisdictions outside of the US.

It is assumed that the new draft of HB 4926 continues with the same provisions as mentioned above, as well as other clauses such as licensing fees for operators of $200,000 the first year and $100,000 each subsequent year. Eligible licensees would come from the states three commercial casinos and almost two dozen tribal casinos.

Revised Bill

While a draft of Iden’s new proposal has yet to be released, word has it that the biggest modification is the inclusion of online sports betting regulations. All land-based casinos (tribal and commercial) in the state would have the option to be involved in sports betting in some form or fashion.

However, online sports betting is not yet a done deal as the states are waiting for a decision from the US Supreme Court that is expected to be handed down shortly. The case was initiated by New Jersey and challenges the current federal sports betting statute. A favorable ruling would allow individual states to provide sports betting at their behest, similar to the ruling that allows states to offer online poker and gambling.

It is believed that around 20 states are gearing up to offer sports betting to their residents if the Supreme Court decision so permits. The National Indian Gaming Association is also behind legalized sports betting, which may be one of the reasons why the revised igaming bill in Michigan included such offerings in the amended version.

While plenty of questions remain regarding the prospects of regulated online poker in Michigan, the fact that Rep. Iden continues to force the issue is certainly welcome news. Even more welcome news would be eventual passage of legislation, which would make Michigan the fifth state to join the online poker party.

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