Michigan Lawmaker Introduces Online Gambling Bill
Michigan lawmakers are debating a bill this week that would legalize online gambling in the state. It’s not their first attempt at regulating the business and it’s one that could be in trouble before it ever really gets off the ground.
Representative Brandt Iden (R) introduced HB4926 earlier this week and lawmakers are set to discuss it on Wednesday morning. Iden is co-sponsoring the measure with two of his fellow Republican lawmakers and one Democrat.
Previous efforts to legalize online gambling in Michigan have sputtered, and ultimately died, after running into complications with the state’s tribal gaming interests. The sticking point with the earlier bills was a section that required Indian tribes to give up their sovereignty (for gambling regulations) and pay certain fees to the state. This was a non-starter and basically killed the bill before it had moved too far along the legislative process.
HB4926 does an end run around this issue by suggesting that tribes will enter a compact with the state if they want to participate. What this compact would involve for the tribes, specifically, is not spelled out in any detail. No representatives of any Michigan tribes are expected to attend this week’s hearings.
The does spell out some specifics that are somewhat unique to Iden’s vision of online gambling for the state. For example, operators doing business in the state would be required to pay a 15 percent tax on revenue. Under the terms of the bill, however, operators with an eye for bargains could do an end run around the tax by entering into an interstate compact and would only pay the same rate as the state their working with, not the Michigan rate.
Iden’s bill also requires that any operator serving the state offer online poker as one of their services.
Michigan political watchers doubt that the bill will pick up much traction and it likely won’t make it out of the committee level.