Michigan Holds Hearing on Online Gambling Bill

Published May 10, 2016 by Elana K

Last week, the Michigan Regulatory Reform Committee met to discuss the online gambling bill introduced in April by Michigan State Senator Mike Kowall. No vote was taken.

Last week, the Michigan Regulatory Reform Committee met to discuss the online gambling bill introduced a few weeks ago by State Senator Mike Kowall. Kowall’s bill, SB 889, and accompanying amendment SB 890, would legalize and regulate online poker and casino games in the state under the title of the Lawful Internet Gaming Act.

Nine members of the Michigan Regulatory Reform Committee, including the chairperson, state senator Tory Rocca, listened to testimony from four different people in support of Kowall’s bill, including the president of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), John Pappas. Michigan’s three land-based casinos, MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit Casino and Greektown Casino, did not come out in support of the bill, but neither did they come out against it.

About the Bill

SB 899 stipulates that online gambling operating licenses will be restricted to tribal casinos and Michigan commercial casinos that already have licenses. A maximum of eight licenses will be granted, and each license will cost $5 million to obtain. After that, operators will need to pay a 10% gross gaming revenue tax to the state.

In addition to the technical aspects of the bill, SB 899 also notes the importance of regulating online gambling as a form of consumer protection. John Pappas also stressed this in his testimony - because online gambling is something that Michigan residents are doing anyway, it is important for the state to provide a safe and secure forum for them to do so, as opposed to the legal offshore sites that leave players open to fraud and theft.  

Future of the Bill

The hearing held last week did not result in a vote, and the state legislature adjourns for the summer on June 16. This means that a decision will need to be made soon, or else it will be put off until the next session. If the bill is approved, Michigan will become the fourth state in the United States to legalize online gambling.



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