Michigan and Pennsylvania Move Forward with Online Gambling Bills, But Struggles Still Ahead

Published March 13, 2017 by Elana K

Good news for online poker advocates. Both Michigan and Pennsylvania committees have approved bills that would legalize online gambling in those states. However, both bills still face obstacles before being approved by their respective Senates.

Good news for online poker advocates. Both Michigan and Pennsylvania committees have approved bills that would legalize online gambling in those states. However, both bills still face obstacles before being approved by their respective Senates.

Michigan's Triumphs and Struggles

In Michigan, the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee reviewed Senator Mike Kowall’s SB 203 and voted in favor by a landslide 7-1. While this is a step in the right direction, it’s not time to celebrate just yet. Last year, a similar bill also made it past committee approval before disappearing from the map. Additionally, it’s no surprise that the committee approved Kowall’s bill - six out of nine members are co-sponsors.

One noticeable absence at the hearing was that of the tribes, some of whom have not yet commented on the bill and others that have come out against it. The reason for this is that the bill only allows commercial casino operators and federally recognized tribes already conducting gaming operations to apply for licenses, which means that in order to participate in an online gambling market, the tribes would have to give up their sovereign tax immunity and become commercial gaming enterprises. Understandably, that does not sit well with them.

Battle Lines Drawn in Pennsylvania

Two days earlier in Pennsylvania, there was a joint hearing of the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee and the House Gaming Oversight Committee. Both opponents and supporters there had the chance to voice their opinions.

Opponents worry that an online gambling industry would detract from the current land-based casino industry, and that the proposed tax rate for online gambling is not enough to meet the high expectations, some of which project over $400 million in revenue for the state in 2019.

Supporters of online gambling say that in New Jersey, that has not been the case, and it won’t be the case in Pennsylvania as well. They also point out that Pennsylvania, deep in debt, needs the revenue from online gambling taxes in order to pull itself out of its deficit.

See also

Michigan Holds Hearing on Online Gambling Bill

New Pennsylvania Report Bodes Well for Pennsylvania Online Gaming

What's The Deal With The Gambling Bill?

Be2Bill

Texas Bill Aims to Legalize Poker


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