Michigan Online Poker and Gambling Bill Moves to Senate
Michigan has proved to be one of the most unpredictable states with regard to efforts to legalize online poker and casino games. The same can be said of its journey to legalizing sports betting.
Just a few days ago, Michigan State Representative Brandt Iden renewed his dedication to these issues with revised bills. By the end of the week, he had passed those bills through the House Ways and Means Committee, to the House floor, and then through the House with a positive vote.
Suddenly, the bill was on the Senate’s doorstep, along with another one for sports betting.
Everything seems to be on a fast track with few remaining days in 2019 to take action. But even if the Senate passes the proposals, Governor Gretchen Whitmer remains the wild card.
You know the old adage, says Rep. @BrandtIden, "The House always wins," after House passed bills legalize sports betting, internet gaming, wagers on fantasy sports.
— Kathy Gray (@michpoligal) October 30, 2019
A Whirlwind Week
Iden had introduced the 2019 Lawful Internet Gaming Act in March. After one favorable committee vote, the bill then stalled in the Ways and Means Committee due to concerns from the Department of the Treasury and Governor Whitmer’s office.
Without any movement for more than six months, not to mention numerous reports of a stalemate between Iden and Whitmer, many believed Michigan to be done with gambling issues in 2019.
On October 29, Iden popped back up with a new version of HB.4311, complete with a tiered taxation system for internet gaming operators. It was a step toward compromise, despite having seen no similar efforts from the governor’s office.
Iden expressed a renewed vigor for the bill. He was energized and ready to get it done before the end of the year.
At the same time, he did the same with his 2019 Lawful Sports Betting Act, HB.4916.
Agreement in the House
Iden presented his bundled gambling bills to the Ways and Means Committee, and the proposals passed by a 10-to-1 vote before heading directly to the floor of the House of Representatives.
Without much ado, the Lawful Internet Gaming Act passed. by a vote of 62-to-46. As reported by The Detroit News, the 62 “yes” votes included only 12 from Democrats, and seven of those were from the Detroit area where three commercial casinos are located.
According to Online Poker Report, Michigan Representative Rebekah Warren opposed the bills and expressed her stance in the committee and on the House floor. Warren was of the same mind as Whitmer on the internet gaming and sports betting bills, but the opposition did not hold enough power.
Iden’s sports betting bill passed by a vote of 63-to-45. Again, only 12 Democrats supported it.
— Kathy Gray (@michpoligal) October 30, 2019
Senate Up Next
The timing of Iden’s push through the House was no coincidence. It put the bills on the doorstep of the Michigan Senate with several days of work this week and next on the calendar.
The Senate will be in session November 5-7 and then next week November 12-13. Should the bills undergo any revisions, the House can take action this week or during the first or second weeks of December. The remainder of the session is officially as follows:
–November 12-13 (Senate only)
–December 17-19 (tentative)
While this is cutting it close, Iden knows what it takes. He passed his online poker and casino games bill last year just days before Christmas. Since the issue has already found favorable support in both houses of the legislature, though, it is unlikely that this year’s process will be as intensive. The bills are believed to have sufficient support in the Senate to pass without delay.
Iden, along with other lawmakers and online poker fans, hopes that this year won’t end in the deep disappointment that then-Governor Rick Snyder delivered. The story will unfold in the coming weeks.
— Kathy Gray (@michpoligal) October 31, 2019
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