Rep. Iden, Sen. Hertel sponsor Michigan iGaming bills

Michigan Online Gambling Bills Back On File Following Former Governor’s Veto

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Proponents of legalized online gambling are bellying back up to the table in Michigan.

A pair of bills reappeared on the record on Thursday, one in each chamber of the state legislature. The matching proposals would expressly authorize online poker and casino gambling, and both contain a one-line provision for online sports betting, too.

Sen. Curtis Hertel is the sponsor of the Senate bill (S 186), while the House bill (H 4311) lists the familiar name of Rep. Brandt Iden. You may recall that Iden’s bill passed both chambers on the final day of the 2018 legislative session, but its prospects died on the desk of former Gov. Rick Snyder.

With Synder no longer in office, the decision may eventually end up in the hands of his successor, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

What’s in the MI online gambling bills?

At a glance, these bills appear to match the 2018 efforts.

The 2019 Lawful Internet Gaming Act would establish a new division within the Michigan Gaming Control Board, charged with regulating the new Michigan online gambling industry. Commercial and tribal casinos would be eligible to apply for online gambling licenses at a cost of $200,000 apiece, and revenue would be taxed at a base rate of eight percent.

This lone mention of sports betting persists in the 2019 bills, too:

The division may permit internet gaming operators licensed by the division to accept internet wagers under this act on any amateur or professional sporting event or contest.

Note that the bill says the division “may” — not “shall.” Whether or not that single sentence could be enough to spawn a regulated MI sports betting industry remains to be seen.

Both bills, incidentally, are tie-barred to standalone daily fantasy sports bills.

Next steps in Michigan

Last year’s sudden surge in the 11th hour figures to bode well for the chances of passage this year. Had there been time remaining in the session, the sponsors likely would have generated enough support to override the veto.

Those 2018 sponsors have maintained their optimism. In a post-veto conversation with Online Poker Report, Sen. Mike Kowall indicated that the incoming governor is likely to be more amenable to such legislation.

Elections have since changed the composition of the legislature, however, including Kowall himself terming out. Some freshman lawmakers will be considering the issue this year for the first time, making prospects a bit less certain. Iden has indicated that he is fully prepared to bring his new colleagues up to speed.

Both bills are filed in the lower chamber and assigned to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform. Sources tell OPR to anticipate the first hearing next Tuesday, March 12.

- 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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