Michigan Introduces iGaming Bill HB 4926

Michigan Introduces iGaming Bill HB 4926State Senator Mike Kowall has championed recent efforts to have online poker regulated in Michigan, having introduced online gaming bills twice since 2016, only to have them eventually die on the Senate floor. Now, Rep. Brandt Iden (photo) and three other Republican supporters, Kathy Crawford, Robert Kosowsk, and Klint Kesto, are carrying the torch forward after introducing HB 4926 on Tuesday, with a House Regulatory Reform Committee hearing set for 10:30am local time later today.
Online poker enthusiasts are used to news of new bills being introduced by politicians, only for them to falter in the legislature later on down the line. After all, just three states in the US have been brave enough to take the plunge and adopt online gambling legislation since 2013, namely Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. Hope springs eternal, though, and Michigan now becomes one of three US state to have an active online gambling bill in place, the others being Pennsylvania and Illinois.
Nevertheless, there are daunting challenges associated with trying to advance an online gambling bill in Michigan, not least because of the need to satisfy regional gaming interests in a state with a disparate mix of both tribal and commercial casino companies. In fact, one of the main reason previous bills failed to advance was because of stipulations made that tribal groups should waive the sovereign immunity granted them by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), and pay fees and taxes like other commercial operators if they wished to participate in a state regulated online gambling industry.
This time around, however, a meaningful concession has been offered to the tribes by allowing them to participate in online gambling without waiving their rights, provided that a deal is authorized by a compact “the tribe has entered into with this state under [IGRA].”
Whether this will be enough to get the ball rolling, though, remains to be seen. Further details contained in HB 4926 include charging an application fee of $100,000, and a license fees of $200,000, reduced to $100,000 after one year. In addition, operators will be subjected to a 15% tax rate, while a provision has also been included to allow interstate compacts with other regulated states, providing that “gaming under the agreement is conducted only in the United States.”

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