Iden Insists Michigan Online Poker at Finish Line for 2018

Iden Insists Michigan Online Poker at Finish Line for 2018

Michigan State Representative Brandt Iden continues to keep the hopes of poker players high as the holidays approach. As the last month of the year began, he gave his most hopeful and confident statement yet about the legalization of online poker and other casino games in 2018.

Online poker supporters have been disappointed many times in the past decade as the United States struggled with the legality and parameters of internet gaming. The American government, both on the federal and state levels, took away most online poker options, toyed with various ways to legalize online poker, and ultimately gave it to the states for their individual decisions. Many states have since talked about legalizing online poker, only to shelve the ideas and bills for consideration at a later date.

But Michigan continues to surprise. The state has taken its internet gaming legislation further than most originally anticipated, and the movement has been powered by Iden.

Latest Statement of Confidence

Iden’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act, known in legislative circles as H.4926, is the bill to watch. And it has been since it was first introduced in September 2017.

Its trajectory has been slow but focused, and the bill’s passage through the House in June 2018 showed significant support for internet gaming with a 68-40 vote. Since then, Iden has been working with members of the Senate to find the same cooperation there, though there was some time spent away from pursuing that goal for Iden’s mid-term election campaign, which resulted in a third term for Iden.

Not long after that election, Iden resumed his H.4926 mission and expressed confidence that the bill would pass during the lame-duck session of the state legislature. “I certainly hope that it gets to the governor’s desk before the end of the year, and I expect it will,” he said.

Just last week, Iden reiterated that conviction, telling Online Poker Report, “We’re close to the finish line.”

Few Days Remain

The first week of December puts the end of the year and legislative session in sight. And the holiday session is a light one with only six official days remaining on the calendar and three more days as a tentative session if needed.

–December 4, 5, 6

–December 11, 12, 13

–December 18, 19, 20 (“tentative”)

During that limited timeframe, there are several issues that might take precedence over internet poker and casino games. According to multiple sources and summed up by MLive, there are key environmental issues, auto insurance changes, and a minimum wage debate to resolve before the end of the session.

Last Days for Kowall

Technically, Iden is not in charge of the bill’s progression at this point. He passed it through the House, and a member of the State Senate must do the rest.

It helps that Senator Mike Kowall is that person. He was the first lawmaker in Michigan to seriously take up the issue of internet poker and gambling, putting forth a bill in 2016. That Lawful Internet Gaming Act became the basis for Iden’s bill.

Kowall is a respected person with seniority in the Senate, and he is serving his last weeks in office due to term limits. Considering Kowall has been working to legalize online gaming for several years, it makes sense that he would like to pass the Lawful Internet Gaming Act before leaving his position. And Iden is supportive in that he wants his work on the issue to be completed as well without having to start over completely with a new bill in 2019.

“Senator Kowall is still Floor Leader in the Senate for the remainder of the lame duck,” Iden told OPR. “Even though he’s not coming back to the legislature because of term limits, he’s still very supported in the Senate. He’s still an advocate for the bill, and I’ll work with him to get it to the finish line.”

Keeping Hope Alive

The determination of Iden and Kowall are encouraging for online poker supporters. The respect for Kowall, especially in his last days in office, could work in his favor, and Iden’s influence may help as well.

On the other hand, the very limited time remaining in the session is concerning. In addition, the absence of sports betting in the bill may prompt some lawmakers to delay their support in the hopes of seeing a more comprehensive gambling expansion bill in 2019.

Iden is staying positive, though. “We’re close to the finish line,” he said. “It’s a top priority of mine to see it come through to the end.”

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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