A bill that would legalize online gambling and poker in Michigan made it past the first round of approval last week, with the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee voting in favor of it during a hearing last Wednesday.
The bill was approved in an 8-1 vote, and will now head to the Senate floor. However, while the initial vote was a landslide, it is not certain that the bill will make the cut-off for this year’s legislative session. Michigan’s legislature will adjourn at the end of the month, and lawmakers are still working on a final version of the state’s budget. This means that there might not be enough time to consider the online gambling bill. If not, it will get pushed off until next year.
Michigan's Fast Work
Unlike other states (such as California) that have been struggling with the online gambling issue for years, Michigan’s iGaming bill was introduced only in April of this year by State Senator Mike Kowall. An informational hearing was immediately held in May, during which Kowall revealed that he had all the state’s casino stakeholders on board. He expressed confidence that the bill has the potential to be passed, providing that Michigan approves its state budget in time.
Also working in Kowall’s favor is the recent selling of online lottery tickets to the Michigan Lottery, which began in 2014. So far, online sales have boosted the state’s revenue, and online gambling has the potential to do the same. At a time when Michigan is suffering from the water crisis in Flint and continued criticism of its public schools, additional revenue is sorely needed.
Other States Vying For Fourth Place
At the same time that online gambling is being propelled forward in Michigan, other states such as New York, Pennsylvania and California have also been fighting to pass legislation. But in all states, the legislative sessions are soon coming to an end, which means that if any of these states want to legalize online gambling this year, they need to act fast.