Close to 10 states have been going back and forth in their efforts to legalize online gambling in America and join the likes of Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware who are the only three states in the country to have lifted the ban on online gambling. California, Pennsylvania and New York were touted as the next states that would potentially legalize online gambling but iGaming bills in these states have yet to get the necessary approval from legislators and continue to remain in a state of limbo.
Michigan Pushes For iGaming Legislation
Michigan has also expressed interest in the past to legalize the online gambling industry. State Sen. Mike Kowall was responsible for introducing the “The Lawful Internet Gaming Act” – SB 889 back in April 2016 and the bill received an 8-1 vote from the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee and was then sent to the Senate for a full vote.
The bill had reportedly taken 3 years to be put together and made a strong case for the legalization of the online gambling industry. SB889 stated that by legalizing online gambling, Michigan would be able to create a new stream of revenue, reduce the amount of offshore gambling operators and provide better protection to online gambling players in the state. The bill had an informational hearing but there were a number of requests raised for the amendments to be made to the bill.
iGaming Hearing – A Positive Step
An amended bill was once again introduced in March 2017 and once again passed the Senate floor. This did not come as a surprise as a number of Senate members also served as sponsors for the bill. There were more amendments requested and earlier this week the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee introduced another amended bill (H 4926) for the House Regulatory Reform Committee to discuss. The meeting was attended by sponsors of the bill, online gambling supporters such as the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the Stars Group (formerly known as Amaya Inc) and online gambling opponents – The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.
The tone during the hearing was along the lines of being informational and not a lot of objections were raised as members on the Senate Committee wanted to learn more about the industry and did not seem opposed to the idea of online gambling. Committee chairman Rep. Brandt Iden who presented the bill told the committee that the passing of this bill would ensure that online gamblers in Michigan would not be exploited by illegal gambling operators. Iden also stated that he believed that it was just a matter of time before Michigan decided to legalize online gambling and he said the timing of that decision was left in the hands of the committee.
Opposition To The iGaming Bill
The 12 tribes in Michigan that operate a total of 23 tribal gaming facilities were not present during the hearing. The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi did confirm that they were not in favor of the bill as it was written and were willing to provide constructive feedback for amendments to be made. The three commercial casinos in MotorCity Casino, Greektown Casino and MGM Grand Detroit were also not in favor of the bill to legalize online gambling but MGM Resorts did stated that they supported the overall concept of the bill.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board was represented by Dave Murley who stated that at this point of time the Gaming Board took a neutral stand on the bill. Murley said that there remained concerns regarding the interests of tribal gaming operators and the bill’s constitutionality.
Support For iGaming
One person who came out in strong support for the bill was Mike Cox, the former state attorney general. He said that the (H 4926) iGaming bill was constitutionally valid under state law and emphasized that Michigan would have to collaborate with other states who have legalized online gambling.
Cox said that a lot of work was done in preparing this new bill which included talks with Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey and implementing the positives from their respective states in to the Michigan iGaming bill. There is still quite a long way to go for Michigan to legalize online gambling but Cox remained positive stating that he was a betting man and he remained positive that Michigan would legalize online gambling in the near future.

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