Michigan iPoker Bill Comes to the Fore Once AgainMay 7, 2018 9:58 am
At the end of 2017, Michigan Rep. Brandt Iden introduced a piece of legislation designed to pave the way for legal online casino games and poker in the state. Progress has since been slow for House Bill 4926, although last week Michigan appeared to be resuming its online gambling efforts, and as Chris Krafcik, Research Director at GamblingCompliance, tweeted on Thursday:
“#MI Rep. Iden began whipping votes for a revised draft of his #iGaming bill this week, he told me today. The new draft includes an 8% GGR tax and online sports betting option for Detroit casinos + an operate-by-compact option for MI tribes.”
The bill has been on the Michigan House floor since December, and if the new draft currently being prepared passes a House vote, Michigan will have a clearer path forward to becoming only the fifth state to allow online gambling games within its borders.
Michigan HB 4926
The Michigan Lawful Internet Gaming Act (H 4926) was introduced by Reps. Iden (photo), Crawford, Kesto, and Kosowski on September 12, 2017, with the bill proposing the establishment of a subordinate body of the Michigan Gaming Control Board called the Michigan Internet Gaming Division, which would be responsible for overseeing the licensing and running of legal online casino and poker games in the state.
Under the proposals of the bill, Detroit’s three casinos and numerous tribal casinos will be permitted to apply for iGaming license at a price of $200,000 each, which would then cost a further $100,000 per year to renew. These internet gambling licenses would subsequently be valid for 5 years, after which the Division will decide whether to renew an operator’s license for another term. There is no “bad actor” clause included in the bill, either, meaning that PokerStars would be free to apply for a state online gambling license.
As one might expect, just those people living or traveling within the state of Michigan will be allowed to gamble online, and only then if they are aged 21 or over. In compliance with responsible gambling requirements, all online gambling operators will need to offer either temporary or permanent self-exclusion options for players, including enabling them to set their deposit and gambling limits. Furthermore, any “self-exclusion” lists would be confidential and exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Gambling Bill Revisions
The revisions currently being proposed for H 4926 includes lowering the taxes paid on internet gross gaming revenue (GGR) from 15% to 8%, with the tax subsequently paid on a monthly basis.
The biggest amendment included, however, is allowing Detroit’s three casinos to offer legal sports betting. With such legislation in place, Michigan is attempting to join around twenty other states poised to take swift advantage of a positive outcome in the Supreme Court sports betting case this summer.
Possibility of Success
Michigan Rep. Brandt Iden pushed H 4926 past his Regulatory Reform Committee at the end of 2017, after which he he said that he expected the bill to pass the House in early 2018, stating that he was” looking to continue discussions with stakeholders throughout January and early February, and have some action shortly thereafter.”
In other words, Iden is currently lobbying the House in order to drum up support for his bill. Having sports betting included in H 4926 may also help secure the support of Native American tribes in the state, especially with the National Indian Gaming Association having already signaled it was in favor of legalized sports betting provided certain conditions were satisfied.
If all goes well, then online poker and casino games could be launched in Michigan as early as the second half of next year. The time delay can be explained by internet gaming licenses only becoming active one year following the “effective date” of this Act, and H 4926 only becoming effective 90 days after its being signed into law.