New Online Poker Bill Introduced in Michigan

Published March 6, 2017 by Elana K

Last Wednesday, Michigan Senator Mike Kowall introduced legislation that would legalize online gambling in the state. The bill, SB 203, is about online poker but is open to including other forms of online gambling activity.

Last Wednesday, Michigan Senator Mike Kowall introduced legislation that would legalize online gambling in the state. The bill, SB 203, is about online poker but is open to including other forms of online gambling activity, and allows the option for licensing to Michigan’s commercial casino operators and federally recognized tribes that already conduct gaming operations.

This is not Kowall's first attempt at legalizing online gambling; last year he introduced a similar bill, which received unofficial approval and then promptly disappeared from everyone’s radars.

This year, Kowall has tried to address the issues raised by his first bill, and included details that will hopefully give SB 203 a fighting chance at getting approval.

About the Bill

The bill Kowall drew up last year pushed for interstate liquidity sharing, an idea that was met with opposition from the Gaming Control Board deputy director, David Murley. This year, the bill still includes the option, but in a much softer way. The language is as follows:

"SB 203 would permit interstate compacts with other gambling-friendly jurisdictions, provided “the gaming under the agreement is conducted only in the United States.”

Another issue raised by Murley is whether the bill needs to be voted on by a public referendum before it is allowed to be considered by the Senate. The chances for the public to be approved are high, as the state has already voted in favor of online lottery sales, but it would delay the bill’s passing.

The last, but not least, pressing issue is that of the tribes, which currently operate casinos under the Indian Gaming Regulation Act. Kowall’s bill, which comes along with licensing fees, would essentially violate the act, something the tribes are likely to fight against.

The proposed licensing fees for a five-year operator license are: $200,000 for the first year, and a subsequent $100,000 for the following four years.

See also

Will Michigan Be the Fourth State to Legalize Online Gamling?


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