Progress has been slow in both House and Senate for Michigan iGaming

Michigan Senator Holds Out Hope An Online Gambling Compromise Can Be Reached

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Michigan state Sen. Mike Kowall isn’t ready to give up on online gambling just yet.

According to GamblingCompliance, the Senate majority floor leader is still actively involved in the process and could formally introduce an amended version of his online gambling legislation from March.

A draft of the amendments has been circulating since June. However, Kowall intimated more input and recommendations are needed before a palatable piece of legislation emerges.

Thus far, that hasn’t occurred.

Unresolved problems in Michigan

In a recent interview with GC, even the usually optimistic Kowall (at least on this issue), admitted the process towards legal online casinos in MI is moving very slowly. Several stumbling blocks still remain:

  • The constitutionality of the bill has been called into question.
  • A compromise that would bring both the state’s commercial casinos and tribes to the table has been elusive.
  • Gov. Rick Snyder hasn’t weighed in on the bill one way or another.
  • Legislative roadblocks, including the Republican House Speaker Tom Leonard, remain. Leonard previously served under anti-online gambling Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and likely shares his views on this particular issue, a local gaming attorney told GC.

The House tosses its hat into the online gambling ring

A more recent piece of online gambling legislation introduced by Rep. Brandt Iden aimed to fix some of the issues raised with Kowall’s bill. Chief among them is how to appease the state’s tribal gaming operators without alienating the commercial casinos.

Iden held an informational hearing the day after the bill was introduced. And while the testimony was largely favorable — including Iden’s pronouncement that if he were a betting man, “iGaming will become law at some stage in the state of Michigan” — the hearing raised more questions than it answered.

First, some remain unconvinced of whether the bill’s language complies with Michigan’s state constitution.

Second, the state’s three commercial casinos — MGM Detroit, Greektown and Motor City — opposed the bill as written, as did the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi tribe. The state’s other tribes didn’t publicly comment on Iden’s bill.

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Is there room for collaboration on iGaming?

According to Gambling Compliance, Kowall “chatted informally about working together on internet gambling policy” with Iden.

But before that can occur, the serious structural issues holding up the bill will need to be resolved.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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