Published On: Thu, May 10th, 2018

Michigan Considers Opening its Doors to Online Gambling

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The Michigan Online Poker Bill is closer to becoming actual law, the bill has been updated with a few amendments and now covers sports betting as well.


Rep. Brandt Iden and other sponsors of the Michigan House Bill 4926, also known as the Michigan Lawful Internet Gaming Act, worked on amending the law to push it once again. The bill failed to survive the committee in 2017.


Now, significant revisions have been made to the 2017 version. The objective of the amendments is to attract support from Native American tribes and make room for sports wagering.


The updates


One of the amendments includes the reduction of GGR (Gross Gaming Revenue) tax on all online gambling operators. Iden wants the rate to be brought down to 8% per month. The current rate has been set at 15%.


Iden is also looking at negotiating with the state’s Native Tribes. Though he has managed to gain the support of the major commercial casinos, such as MGM Grand, Motor City, and Greektown, the Native Tribes have been non-committal.


An option that allows the tribes to take part in the bill via compact is being explored to encourage their support.


However, as stated earlier, the most significant amendment is the one that permits sports wagering. This is highly dependent on whether or not the Supreme Court will dismiss the current Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. If the court does go ahead as hoped, state governments will be granted the authority to conduct and regulate sports betting in their respective jurisdictions.


Many states are currently working on developing legislation that will legalize sports wagering.


Tribal trouble


Tribal casino representatives will support the bill only with the approval of members from their respective constituencies. It has always been a great challenge to strike a balance between providing tribal sovereignty and establishing a competitive market for gaming.


In IDen’s updated bill, there are suggestions guiding tribes on how to submit a letter to the governor and request for the current compact to be updated. If updated, the compact will include Internet gambling.


According to Iden, the best way to achieve this is by ensuring that the state negotiates with each tribe individually, with a focus on their specific issues.


Though the tribes aren’t against online gambling, they haven’t voiced their support either. This is a challenge the bill’s sponsors will have to overcome creatively.

About the Author

- iGaming & land based specialist reporter for the global gaming market