Michigan online poker bill killed by Governor Rick Snyder

Kentucky online poker bill

It looks like Michigan’s launch into the world of online poker has been put on hold.

As reported last week, Michigan looked set to become the fifth state to legalize online gambling, in the process delighting online poker players. The enthusiasm stemmed from Bill HB 4962, which comfortably passed through the Michigan state senate by a vote of 33-5.

The Bill had previously passed through the Michigan House of Representatives with a vote of 68-40 and only needed the sign-off from Governor Rick Snyder to be approved into law. That approval never came.

What’s next for online poker in Michigan?

Many Michigan legislators, including Michigan State Senator Mike Kowall who presented the legislation, expected a quick and easy sign off from Snyder. The bill had enjoyed strong support from both sides. Instead, Snyder killed the bill with the stroke of a pen by vetoing it.

According to Snyder, his reasoning behind killing the bill were misgivings around how it could potentially affect the budget. In his veto letter, Snyder remarked “Due to largely unknown budgetary concerns, I believe this legislation merits more careful study and comparison with how other states have, or will, authorize online gaming. To be blunt, we simply don’t have the data to support this change at this time.”

Snyder specifically mentioned the lower tax rate that would be applied to online gambling when compared to the tax rate on state lotteries. Snyder said he believed this could lead to lower taxes coming into the lottery, which is a main proponent to funding the Michigan School Aid Fund.

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Why Did Snyder Veto the online poker bill?

The timing of Snyder’s veto, the end of the year just days before he is set to leave the Governor’s office, makes it all but impossible for state legislators to overwrite it. With the house and senate both on break for the rest of the year, reconvening them to overturn to veto would be logistically impossible.

A band of new legislators and a new Governor will head to Lansing in January. It will be up to them to pick up the mantle and try and get a new bill off the ground.

The new governor replacing Snyder is Democrat Gretchen Whitmer. It is still to be seen if she has more of an appetite for online poker in Michigan than Snyder did.


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