Michigan is once again trying to make some headway in their online poker and gambling legislations with Rep. Brandt Iden taking the lead and trying to make things happen. Developments of the state’s online poker and gambling bill have been slow since it was first introduced to the house.
Even after Rep. Iden introduced an amended version in September 2017, the amended bill did not gain the momentum that was expected and got stuck towards the end of 2017. However, Michigan is once again making a push to move its online poker bill and become one of the few states in the country to lift the ban on online poker.
Michigan HB 4926
The bill is called the Michigan Lawful Internet Gaming Act or the Michigan House Bill 4926, and seeks to create a regulated internet gaming environment in the state by offering internet games such as online poker.
As of September 12, 2017, the house bill was introduced by Reps. Iden, Crawford, Kesto, and Kosowski, and referred to the Committee on Regulatory Reform.
The highlight of the bill is the creation of the Michigan Internet Gaming Division under the Michigan Gaming Control Board to establish the rules for licensing and operation of real money online casino games and poker.
Parameters Of The iGaming bill
In terms of gaming licenses, roughly two dozen tribal casinos and the three Detroit commercial casinos—MGM Grand, Greektown, and Motor City—will be eligible to apply for an online iGaming license. The three Detroit casinos have already given their support for the bill, while the Native American tribes are either opposed, non-committal or neutral about the proposed bill.
Unlike the hefty price of online gaming licenses in Pennsylvania, Michigan proposes a different licensing program. Operators are required to submit a $100,000 upfront payment upon application for the iGaming license. Once approved, they will then have to pay a $200,000 initial licensing fee, plus $100,000 each year which is an annual renewal fee.
In response to the concerns of problem gambling, the Michigan iGaming bill also includes requirements to help address the issue. All online gambling operators are required by the bill to display the state-run hotline for problem gamblers on their site, and diligently operate self-exclusion options for punters.
These self-exclusion measures includes giving the ability for punters to set deposit and wagering limits for themselves, and protecting the confidentiality of the self-exclusion lists to the point that it is exempt from FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests. It is stipulated in the bill that only those who are aged 21 years old or older will be able to play.
Revisions To The Bill
Iden is once again trying to move the iGaming bill forward in 2018 by coming up with another revised version. This new revision is going to amend certain parts of the September 2017 version, and add new parameters to prepare the bill for the Supreme Court ruling on sports wagering.
One of the biggest additions to the Michigan iGaming bill is including an online sports betting option for Detroit casinos. Gaming analysts expect New Jersey to win the case against the professional sports leagues and believe that the Supreme Court will repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992.
Such a ruling could enable Michigan and other states to start creating legislation to offer sports betting. Iden’s decision to include sports betting in the iGaming bill does not come as a surprise as there are a number of states who are drafting their own version of sports wagering legislation to prepare for a positive ruling from the Supreme Court.
Also included in the revision is the lowering of Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) tax on all internet games from a fixed rate of 15 percent to 8 percent. The GGR tax will be paid monthly on the 10th of every month.  To woo the support of the Native American tribes, Iden included an operate-by-compact option for Michigan tribes.
Potential Of Michigan’s iGaming Bill
Iden is still in the process of courting House representatives to support the bill. They are also opening the negotiation to the tribes since the National Indian Gaming Association said recently that they are in favor of legalizing sports betting and new regulation—as long as certain conditions are met.
If signed into law, the Michigan Lawful Internet Gaming Act expects to launch online poker and casino games as early as the second half of 2019.