Brandt Iden’s Fight for Legalized Poker in Michigan
Brandt Iden has been one of the most vociferous proponents of legalizing online poker in Michigan. The idea was born back in September 2017 when Iden first outlined his plan in a bill known as H.4926 in legal circles. Most people, though, refer to it as the Lawful Internet Gaming Act. With Iden having to briefly go away to campaign during the mid-terms, he had to temporarily put his efforts on the backburner.
But nothing has changed and at the end of 2018, Iden is now making a final dash for it, hoping to bring a Christmas miracle around and have poker legalized in Michigan. His chances are looking good. Having won the tough battle in the House (60-40), he has been met with sympathy and understanding in the Senate.
Outgoing State Senator Mike Kowall, a supporter of online casinos and gambling in general, has taken a shine on Iden’s plan to bring online poker to the state once again. Kowall has only weeks before he leaves his position due to legal limitations of how long he can serve, but even out of office, Kowall has influence and connections.
According to Iden, Kowall’s endorsement of the bill would be enough in itself to give it the legal momentum in Senate, which may actually clear it in the highest legislative body in the country, paving a way for the activity in 2019.
Iden is determined to see the bill pushed through Senate, even though, at this point, it’s beyond him to influence the outcome of any future vote. He recently pointed out that while he wouldn’t want to start over with a new bill in 2019, he would still seek to support the legalization of online poker, come what may.
Legal Poker in Michigan’s Intricate Web of Laws
Michigan is clearly set against gambling as per the existing legal framework. According to Section 750.314, all games that presuppose staking money are interpreted as “misdemeanor”.
Conversely, Section 432.202 from 1996 states that “Gambling game […] does not include games played with cards in private homes or residences in which no person makes money for operating the game, except as a player,”
However, Iben is trying to steer clear from these definitions, as he proposes a clean slate for the entire industry. Michigan is hardly the first state to be pushing ahead with a rather ambitious plan to legalize online gaming activities & poker.
Kentucky, which is not too far from Michigan, is also now looking into ways to legalize its gaming activities in order to foot the bill for an ailing pension fund system. Iden’s bill doesn’t base its argument on the social funding that the state will receive, but it’s definitely a trump card he could use to forward the cause.