Movement for Michigan Online Poker Bill
The push for online poker and casino games in Michigan became the talk of the American online gaming industry in 2017 when State Senator Mike Kowall and Representative Brandt Iden began to coordinate efforts. As Kowall worked on revisions for his bill, Iden expressed unfettered optimism about his proposal and confidence in his ability to pass it.
While momentum slowed – at least looking in from the outside – trough the holidays and the first few months of 2018, the lawmakers were doing work behind the scenes. And as May got underway, word of Iden’s progress made its way to industry insiders. The Poker Players Alliance intensified its focus on Michigan, and reports surfaced of a revised online gaming bill finding support in the House.
PPA is making a push to get a vote on an iPoker bill in Michigan. Even if you don't live there you can be a big help. If you do live in Michigan, you need to take these actions: https://t.co/0JUBTahPp6 pic.twitter.com/CKpMDMyR5r
— PokerPlayersAlliance (@ppapoker) April 30, 2018
Many poker fans’ eyes may be on New York for its online poker potential, but there are reasons to keep one eye on Michigan as well.
House Online Gaming Bill Draft Still a Mystery
Days after Iden told Chris Krafcik of Gambling Compliance that he’s been amassing votes for his revised online gambling bill, the draft has yet to be revealed.
#MI Rep. Iden began whipping votes for a revised draft of his #iGaming bill this week, he told me today. The new draft includes an 8% GGR tax and online sports betting option for Detroit casinos + an operate-by-compact option for MI tribes. More tomorrow a.m. on @GamblingComp.
— Chris Krafcik (@CKrafcik) May 3, 2018
Even so, support for the proposal is vital in order to ensure an enthusiastic response when the bill does come to light. As it stands, HB.4926 still reflects its 2017 wording and status, which is that it was referred for a second reading in the House Regulatory Reform Committee on December 13. In addition to Iden listed as the bill’s sponsor, the other names attached to it are Representatives Kathy Crawford, Robert Kosowski, and Klint Kesto.
Bundled for Additional Support
As Krafcik reported, the new online gambling bill draft includes online sports betting. The bundling of online poker and casino games with sports betting gives it even more momentum, as many states are passing sports betting legislation in anticipation of the United States Supreme Court decision on that issue. A ruling is expected sometime this month in the case brought by New Jersey in the hopes of overturning the federal sports betting statute and giving the right to legalize to all individual states.
This revised bill is likely to have a companion on the Senate side. As noted at the end of March, Kowall was working on a revision to his SB.203. While there were no online sports betting provisions included in the draft at the time, the bill did include input from the Senate Majority Leader and was not yet finalized.
There is every reason to suspect that Kowall and Iden have been working together to ensure the bills on both sides of the legislature are complimentary and can move in sync. And if Iden’s bill claims to have support for the bundled online gaming and sports betting bill, there is likely similar support on the House side for a similar measure.
Timing is Everything
Iden likely has a plan for his HB.4926, and the same can be said of the seasoned legislator, Kowall.
One strategy may be to put the finishing touches on the bills while awaiting the US Supreme Court decision on sports betting, and to then release the drafts for quick movement if a positive decision gives the go-ahead for sports betting. If the court rules against New Jersey, there may be an alternative plan to push online poker and casino games on their own.
Another strategy is to wait for the ideal voting scenario, such as before the summer break when legislators want to close any pending issues in order to leave the capital with as many bills passed as possible. This timing would be something Iden and Kowall would know and could plan around.
There are numerous possibilities.
What is known is that the issue is gathering momentum again in 2018. Much of the activity, especially from Iden, came in the latter part of last year, putting too much of a rush on a complicated proposal. But the negotiations throughout the latter part of 2017 and early months of 2018 may have paid off if the lawmakers in charge of the bills play their cards right.
ICYMI … It was reported last week that the Michigan House is trying to get a vote on #iPoker & #sportsbetting legislation. https://t.co/ruGpmt6cZV Conveniently, PPA has launched an advocacy page to urge lawmakers to vote YES. Take action now: https://t.co/0JUBTahPp6 pic.twitter.com/7ADqmQUfTv
— PokerPlayersAlliance (@ppapoker) May 7, 2018
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