Michigan Sports Betting And Online Gambling Bill Passes House

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The Great Lakes State has finally taken a major step toward legal online gambling and sports betting in Michigan.

House lawmakers voted to pass the Lawful Internet Gaming Act by a 68-40 margin this evening, sending it along to the Senate. The proposal from Rep. Brandt Iden would allow the state’s casinos to offer most forms of internet gambling, including online poker and sports gambling.

The bill had laid dormant since the start of the year, but there was some speculation it would appear before the scheduled adjournment. It did, just barely.

Today was the last day of the legislative session, so the next steps will have to wait until fall.

What’s in the Michigan online gambling bill?

The bill is H 4926, and it would grant the three Detroit casinos permission to offer internet gaming as soon as next year. Total cost for each application and five-year licensure would be $800,000. If passed, casino-style games, poker and sports betting would all be available over the internet.

“It will allow internet gaming as it pertains to all the games currently allowed in a brick-and-mortar casino,” Iden told the Detroit Free Press.

The state’s 23 tribal casinos would also be permitted to offer online gambling, provided compacts are created or amended.

Some other highlights:

  • Imposes an eight-percent tax on internet gambling revenue
  • Requires gaming equipment to be physically located within an MI casino
  • Includes provisions for multi-jurisdictional agreemts
  • Dictates a one-year waiting period for launch
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Progress and prospects

Iden first introduced the bill last September, and it cleared his own committee shortly thereafter.

The tribal-state landscape is tenuous, though, and there was no more legislative progress until today. Passage by the House puts the bill halfway to the finish line.

The commercial casinos have voiced support for online gaming, but it’s still not clear if the tribes will offer theirs. So far, they have not. The sudden potential for sports betting may help draw stakeholders together during the recess — Iden thinks it will — but it’s tough to say.

We’ll find out more in ten weeks when lawmakers return to the capital.

“When we come back in the fall,” Iden said, “this is going to be at the top of the agenda. Michigan should be at the forefront of that.”

- Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.
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