Tis the Season for Online Gambling Misinformation in Michigan

MichiganEfforts to regulate online gambling in Michigan happen in little flurries of activity and then we hear nothing for months. Around each flurry of activity, proponents and opponents of online gambling get their propaganda machines into full gear, and it looks as if they are revving their engines to do it again.

A handful of events related to regulated online gambling in Michigan have caught my eye in recent days, prompting me to believe there is some behind-closed-doors discussions going on in Lansing. The first of these events occurred last Friday, when the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) resurrected its Daily Action Plan and asked followers to tweet messages in support of regulated online gambling to members of Michigan´s House of Representatives.

The resurrection of the Daily Action Plan coincided with discussions about Michigan´s budget, and the tweets suggested that regulating online gambling in Michigan would provide consumer protection and generate revenues without raising taxes. Neither of these are true. There are no player protections in the current version of the proposed “Lawful Internet Gaming Act” (PDF), and not only might regulation cost more to administer than its generates, it could also cannibalize the State School Aid Fund ([geolink href=”https://www.usafriendlypokersites.com/michigan-house-committee-approves-revised-igaming-bill/”]discussed in this article[/geolink]). The tweets were ignored, and the House has since approved next year´s budget.

Family Values Group Gets it Wrong as Well

The second event to catch my eye was an Op-Ed published in last weekend´s Detroit News (“Don´t Legalize Internet Gambling”) in which the Director of Michigan Family Forum – Dan Jarvis – argued the passage of the “Lawful Internet Gaming Act” would represent a threat to the values of Michigan families. He claims (stop me if you have heard this before):

Legalizing online gambling turns all computers into casinos, all cellphones into slot machines and all iPads and tablets into poker tables. The only thing that stands between our kids and the one click away from a 24/7, 365 virtual casino isn’t an ID card but an Internet connection.

Jarvis also argues that passing the legislation would violate the state constitution by expanding gambling without a mandate in a state-wide ballot. Clearly Jarvis has not read the latest version of the proposals, in which the legislature seeks to circumnavigate the constitution by expanding the gambling services offered by the state´s tribal and commercial casinos rather than expanding gambling per se.

Regulated Online Gambling Won´t Do This and It Won´t Do That

To summarize to date: Regulated online gambling in Michigan will not better protect consumers, probably won´t generate much on an income, won´t violate the constitution and won´t turn children into gambling junkies. Why am I so certain about this last point? Because online gambling is not illegal in Michigan. If kids are going to gamble underage, they are already doing it, and all regulation will do is drive their action to offshore sites.

This last point was brought up by Detroit radio presenter and personality Steve Gruber in a column he wrote for last weekend´s American Thinker. Although Gruber is somehow convinced the regulation of online gambling in Michigan will prevent children from gambling online, he also notes the remarkable similarities between Dan Jarvis´ Op-Ed and the Sheldon Adelson-funded testimony given to Michigan´s Senate Regulatory Reform Committee last March on behalf of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

Why Not Include the Proposal on the November Ballot?

Here´s a solution. Let the people decide. If there are concerns about violating the constitution, consumer protection and underage/problem gambling, why not include the proposal on the November ballot and – if it passes – discuss the regulation of online gambling in Michigan with the mandate of the people. If it doesn´t pass, shelve the idea for another four years.

Unfortunately this is unlikely to happen. This November, Senators and Representatives will be seeking re-election. Any politician who supports potentially unpopular legislation – or who opposes potentially popular legislation – is likely to lose their seat. Undoubtedly there will be more scrutiny than ever before on who is supporting/opposing what measures, and anything remotely contentious is likely to be left off of this year´s ballot – denying the people to the right to have their say on important issues; if, of course, the electorate´s view is not influenced by the season for online gambling misinformation in Michigan.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett