Barely a week after legislators in Michigan approved an online gambling bill in a late-night legislative session, the bill has been vetoed by the state’s outgoing governor. Hopes that Michigan would soon be among the few states where gamblers could enjoy legal online gambling were among some of the things that the governor crushed when he chose not to sign some bills into law.
This is quite disappointing especially because it seems like the state had finally come to the end of a four-year journey to legalize internet gambling which would, in turn, set up the possibility of the legalization of sports betting in the state sometime next year. The outgoing governor who is completing his last term in office has just single-handedly pushed the inevitable back by at least one year.
When he vetoed House Bill 4926 and its accompanying pieces HB 4927 and HB 4928, the governor cited concerns over the financial and social impacts of online gambling on the state. In a letter that was addressed to the state Senate and the House, the governor clarified that, while he acknowledged the amount of work, time and effort that went into online gambling bill, there were still a number of issues that needed to be ironed out first.
Some of the things that Governor Snyder pointed out was that the introduction of online casino games and online poker could potentially shift the gambling habits or behavior of Michigan residents particularly away from the state-run iLottery program to online gambling at local casinos. He also noted that it was not feasible to allow online gambling since it would contribute to $0.04 for each $10 wagered online when the Michigan Lottery was contributing at a whopping $2.76 for each $10 wagered. Also, the governor was concerned that the bill would make it much easier to gamble and, therefore, more people could be lured in and eventually develop gambling-related problems.
According to Michigan Rep. Brandt Iden, the originator and main proponent of the move by the outgoing governor to veto all the bills in the package was quite disappointing, to say the least. Iden does not think that any of the reasons that were laid out by the governor were valid and he plans to reintroduce the online gambling bill when the state’s 2019 legislative session kicks off in January. He will also be including a previous plan to have a framework set up for legal sports betting in Michigan.
“I saw over the course of the last two years the time it takes to educate people on these issues and get them up to speed on where we are,” Iden said. “I’m going to need to do that again, but I’m fully prepared to do so and confident we will have a successful 2019. It took a long time to get here, and this is a bump in the road, but I’m confident it will get done.”
While the bill may have passed so easily the first time around, it does not necessarily mean that it will be the same next year – it will take some time to educate the new legislators on the issue but that is the only way the bill could have a chance.