Lawmakers in Michigan are looking at launching online poker before the end of the year.
Michigan Lawmakers Hope to Pass Online Poker Legislation
More and more states are starting to warm up to the idea of online poker legislation – and Michigan could be the next to legalize the activity. Over the course of the past few weeks, stakeholders and lawmakers have worked together on the Lawful Internet Gaming Act which would make online poker legal in Michigan before the year is up.
The two bills that need to be passed are HB 4311 and HB 4916. They would allow for the expansion of gambling in Michigan, including the introduction of online poker, online casino and multi-channel sportsbetting. Similar versions of these bills were introduced last year, but they were vetoed by former governor Rick Snyder.
This time around, things could be different, though. Governor Gretchen Whitmer seems more supportive to online gambling legislation, but she has had some reservations. She is worried that legalizing online poker and other casino games would cannibalize lottery sales.
Online lottery sales are crucial in the state, as Michigan allocates 100% of the MI online lottery revenue to the School Aid Fund. Should online gambling be legalized, there is the concerned that this would ultimately reduce the amount of funding that schools across the state receive.
However, the Governor does seem to have hopes that there is a remedy for this issue. She has proposed a tax rate of 40% for online poker and casino operators, along with licensing fees of about $1 million. While it does sound excessive, Michigan is a huge state that many online gaming operators would be eager to jump into, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the state would receive plenty of licensing applications even if the fees are quite high.
If online poker and online casino legislation is passed in Michigan, rules similar to those in Pennsylvania and New Jersey would apply. If an online company like PokerStars (which doesn’t already have a land-based license in Michigan) received an online license, they would have to partner up with a brick-and-mortar brand.
This would mean that casinos like Bay Mills, Four Wins and Kewadin may throw their hats in the ring. There are over two dozen casinos across the state of Michigan, so online operators shouldn’t have much trouble finding a land-based gaming partner.