In Michigan, online gambling legalization is one step closer to becoming a reality, again, as a new piece of legislation was introduced earlier in the week and a hearing regarding the measure took place on Wednesday. H 4926 was introduced by Representative Brandt Iden before the state House Regulatory Reform Committee, to legalize iGaming and along with it, online poker.
According to PokerNews, Iden, the chairman of the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee, expressed during the hearing that it’s not a matter of if, online gambling would be legalized in the state, but when. Michigan already has more than 30 casinos in operation as well as lottery gaming, which includes legal online lottery sales, so it would appear that the state is ripe for the picking.
In 2016 Michigan became a state to watch when it came to the possibility of legalizing iGaming. Senator Mike Kowall introduced a measure in April of last year to see online casino games and online poker regulated within the state. The bill was able to move through the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee with relative ease but failed to retain its momentum, with neither house voting on the bill.
In March of this year, a similar online gaming bill, “The Lawful Internet Gaming Act,” was introduced but was unable to move forward. On Wednesday, H 4926, the bill introduced by Iden, was the subject of the hearing. Informal in nature, the hearing did not include a vote on the bill. Based on reports from other sources, such as Online Poker Report, it seems the members of the committee were in support of the measure or wanted to learn more about the online gambling industry.
Presenters used the hearing to emphasize the need for consumer protections, helping to keep citizens in the state safe from offshore operators and unregulated sites. The secondary focus was of course generating revenues. Iden stated in the hearing that legislature needs to be proactive and protect the citizens of Michigan.
Several proponent groups were on hand during the hearing via representatives including the Poker Players Alliance and the Stars Group. In opposition, a representative of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling was on hand as well. Three casinos in the state did not send representatives but did show opposition to the idea of online gaming. These casinos include the MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit and Greektown Casino.