Michigan Online Gambling Bill Introduced

MichiganA bill that could regulate online gambling, including online poker, has been introduced in the Michigan State Senate recently.

The Michigan State Senate has seen the introduction of a bill that would look to regulate and legalize online gambling, including Internet poker.

The current state of online poker regulation in the United States is that each individual state is going to have to create its own regulatory body, something that only three states (Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey) have done so far. The reason for this is that it’s very unlikely that the federal government is going to create a regulatory body for the industry at any point in the near future.

While a number of states have debated the topic, Michigan has become the most recent to enter the arena with a bill called the “Lawful Internet Gambling Act” that was introduced in the State Senate recently.

What’s In the Bill

The contents of the bill includes a few main points. First, it acknowledges that online gambling is successfully legalized and regulated in several parts of the world and that it is used to produce some serious revenue for the governments where it’s taxed. Second, it points out that regulation is necessary to protect residents who decide to gamble online regardless of the current state of the law. Third, it shows that jobs would be created from the regulation of the industry.

Specifics of What’s Allowed

There are some very clear specifics about the licensing and which games will be allowed listed in the bill:

  • Players will need to be at least 21 years old to play.
  • Both casino games and online poker are included in the bill.
  • Land-based casinos and tribal groups will be able to apply for a license.
  • A maximum of eight licenses will be granted.
  • An upfront licensing fee of $5 million, credited against future taxes, is required.
  • A total tax of 10 percent of gross earnings is to be levied.

Those are all pretty straightforward types of restrictions that we’ve seen before. However, there is something else that really sticks out.

Interstate and International Compacts

The bill in its present form offers language that allows for compacts to be made with other states and areas outside of the country to allow people from other parts of the world to participate in the games. In short, if it’s not illegal for the player to get in on the action on their location, they can connect to play if it doesn’t break any federal laws. This is the first time anything like this has been done with state-regulated online gambling, and it’s a very exciting development because it could lead to a huge surge forward for interstate online poker.

The Current State of Online Gambling in Michigan

Something interesting about all of this is that Michigan already has options for online lottery sales. Since the first month of 2015, individuals have been able to purchase lottery tickets on the Internet, and this is worth noting because it plays into the current situation for trying to regulate online casino and online poker play.

The bit about interstate games is particularly interesting because it could allow for much larger player pools than what we’ve seen before in other state-regulated sites. Small player pools are a curse that these previously regulated online poker rooms have had to deal with, and there’s not really a solution for them at this point in time outside of interstate gambling compacts. If Michigan pushes this deal through, then it could be the spark that the industry needs to get things going in the right direction.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett