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Michigan Online Poker Bill Clears Committee Vote

Legislation Likely To Be Considered Further In 2018

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Legislation in Michigan that would establish regulation of legal online casinos cleared a key committee vote on Wednesday.

According to the Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee, the legislation, HB 4926, now sits on the House floor for consideration. A successful vote there would ship the legislation over to the Senate and possibly to the governor’s desk thereafter, according to a clerk with the Regulatory Reform Committee.

Card Player learned that the measure could be voted on by end-of-day Thursday, but it’s likely that it will have to wait until 2018. “It’s most likely not going to be passed out of the House this year, but it’s still possible,” the committee clerk said.

The legislative efforts come from State Rep. Brandt Iden, a Republican. He told Card Player in a September interview that he was hoping to get the bill out of the Committee by the end of October. The failure to do so alludes to the issue’s complexity. A similar version of Iden’s bill, backed by Republican State Sen. Mike Kowall, cleared a Senate committee in March.

“Sen. Kowall’s bill did come out of committee but it appears to be stalled on the Senate floor for support,” Iden said. “We thought that we’d strategically try to work this through the House.”

Iden added that the only way the bill will be successful is if all the casinos in the state, both commercial and tribal, are “on-board with what we are trying to do.”

“If I can get all those individuals to the table and supporting it we’ll be able to pass this in the House and Senate and get the governor to sign it without threat of a veto,” he said. “I want to give this the proper time in order to work with the casinos and make sure we have the right language in the legislation that they can support.”

Casino gambling is big business in the state, as the three Detroit casinos win about $1.4 billion a year combined and the 23 tribal casinos win about $1.5 billion combined annually. The state’s iGaming market could be worth more than $300 million at maturation.

Michigan is well-suited for an online casino industry because it kicked off internet lottery sales in 2014. Net revenues from the iLottery are estimated at $80 million for 2017, a nearly 70 percent increase over 2016.

In October, Pennsylvania finally legalized online casino gaming, a move that is expected to be a catalyst for other states to do the same. Michigan has been considering online poker seriously for the past couple of years.