Michigan Awaits Governor’s Signature to Legalize Gambling

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Michigan's welcome sign.
Welcome to Michigan and the new age of online gambling.

Michigan is on its way to legalize online gambling, awaiting a signature from Governor Rick Snyder, and joining in with four others in providing iGaming products to the people who reside on the state’s territory.

Michigan’s Senate Clears the Online Gambling Bill

With the legislative season now over, the Michigan Senate has managed to pull a quick last-minute vote, backing the H 4926 bill laying down the groundwork for legal online gambling in the stat.

And this is hardly the first state that’s on track of becoming a legal hot spot for online gambling.

The Senate voted 33 in favor, and 5 against. Having been sent for re-voting to the House, the bill was rushed in the early hours of the morning, managing to garner support with 71-35 votes, and promising to usher in a range of activities, including:

  • online poker
  • online casinos
  • sports betting

But the successful passage of the bill was the result of specific fine-tuning administered in the Senate. Senators had seen to it that the bill would garner a more specific look that would cause less of an opposition. Several changes have been suggested.

Tribes Can Choose Between Commercial and Compact

Tribal gaming operators will be allowed to become commercial operators with licenses issued by the Michigan Control Board as opposed to seeking to introduce changes to their compacts with Michigan, which is considered to be a specifically tiresome process. By becoming commercial operators, compacts would need no changing, as per the bill:

This act only regulates internet gaming as provided in this act and does not extend to the division, or any other agency of this state, any jurisdiction or regulatory authority over any aspect of any gaming operations of an Indian tribe described in section 4(4)(b) beyond those rights granted to this state under the compact with the Indian tribe.

We’re in It Together: The Synchronized Launch

Michigan will also seek to introduce a 15-month period during which all commercial and tribal properties can prepare for a synchronized launch, much like elsewhere in the United States. This would mean that no card room, casino or bookmaker would have an edge over the rest of the operators. A level field seems to be one of the important aspects of the bill.

But what does the bill contain specifically:

  • Licenses cost $200,000 for a five-year period and can be renewed at $100,000
  • Online gambling licenses will be granted to both commercial and tribal operators
  • Taxation is set at 8% for the gross gaming revenue of all operators, regardless of their activity
  • Detroit will get an additional 1.25% in tax money from all state commercial casinos

The revenue from the tax will then be divvied up between schools, the state, the city, various public funds and more, specifically:

  • 55% will be allocated to Michigan
  • 5% will be granted to the Michigan School and Michigan Transportation Funds each
  • Another 5% will be granted to the Michigan agriculture equine industry, but the sum can’t exceed $3 million
  • 30% will go straight to the city which hosts the casino

The Road Ahead – Michigan and Online Gambling Everywhere

While the United States hasn’t got a law allowing gamblers from non-regulated states to participate in the online activities of places where legislation has been cleared, the states to have endorsed gambling have pooled their players, including:

  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • Delaware
  • And now Michigan

This will create a combined player pool of 30 million + people who can compete for shared prize pools, effectively boosting interest and creating a vibrant ecosystem. However, Michigan is unlikely to open its first gaming shops until 2020. Having first been introduced earlier in December, the Michigan bill has hit its mark.

While the important changes are in progress, rumors have swirled that the government is trying to backtrack many of the changes allowing online gambling and sports betting to be introduced to individual states.

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