Michigan online gambling legislation had been dormant since December

Michigan Online Casino, Sports Betting Bill Is Coming Out Of Hibernation

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An online casino, poker and sports betting bill in Michigan is stirring to life.

What’s new with Michigan and online gambling?

Online Poker Report had been aware of possible movement on Michigan’s effort to legalize online gambling in recent weeks. But those rumors turned into reality on Thursday night, with this nugget from GamblingCompliance:

The bill from Rep. Brandt Iden is currently on the calendar for the Michigan House floor, where it’s been since December. It appears that the new draft will be amended on the floor before a potential vote, if things go as planned.

The bill — H 4926 — has not yet been amended online.

How we got here on the Michigan online casino bill

Legislation has moved about as fast as molasses through the legislative process to date. There had initially been hope for relatively quick movement, but that didn’t pan out.

An amended version of a bill introduced by Iden in September passed out of his committee at the tail end of 2017.

The three Detroit commercial casinos — MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino and MotorCity Casino — had given their support for the bill. The Native American tribes had still been either opposed, neutral or non-committal on the bill at the time.

It’s not clear if the new version of the bill will win the support of Native American tribes in the state. But the National Indian Gaming Association recently said it generally supports the repeal of the federal sports wagering ban, and new regulation as long as it meets conditions with which the tribes concur.

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Sports betting too?

The addition of sports betting to the mix in December was a bit of a surprise. At the time, Michigan was ahead of the curve, as states around the country have contemplated a wide variety of sports betting bills to start 2018. To date, only one state — West Virginia — has enacted a law.

States that pass laws now could be poised to offer sports betting quickly should the Supreme Court sports betting case strike down the federal ban. A decision is expected before the end of June in the case involving New Jersey sports betting.

It’s not clear if handling sports betting and online gambling in tandem will necessarily help the legislation progress. The commercial casinos certainly want to offer sports wagering if the bill is written the right way. MGM, for its part, has been bullish on the future of sports wagering.

We may find out soon if Michigan online casinos and Michigan sports betting have a path forward together in 2018.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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