Michigan Bill Would License Online Gaming and Poker

Online poker at Michigan

After the U. S. Department of Justice issued their famous decree in 2011 that the Wire Act of 1961 applied only to sports betting, many thought there would be a mob towards individual states that offer online gaming and poker to their masses. After all, with rising budget deficits, local and state governments were always looking for ways to raise revenues for their repository. As observed, however, that expected mob has resembled a Sunday stroll, with only three states – Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey – stepping up to pass online gaming regulations.

Although, that does not mean the other states haven’t at least thought about acting. As of yet, no other state that has joined the trio from 2013. To demonstrate how senseless it has been when it comes to passing online gaming and poker regulations, we take a look at Michigan for the latest unfoldings in the legislative world of online gaming politics.

Until the end of 2016, Michigan was not even on the cards for those looking at which state would be up next to pass online gaming regulations. After passing online lottery sales in 2014, Michigan sprung to life in October 2016, with the State Senator Mike Kowall claiming that a bill regulating online gaming and poker regulations could “still pass.” While that bill did make it out of its Senate committee, it did not turn up to the floor of the Michigan Senate for a vote and more importantly, it did not have a companion legislation in the Michigan House for consideration.

Now, the Michigan Legislature is trying to accommodate their desire for more money for government while curbing the cries from the anti-gaming forces who would normally look to shut them down. The plan would include the three commercial gaming casinos – the Motor City Casino, the MGM Grand Detroit, and the Greektown Casino, all located in Detroit – and the Indian casinos as the outlets for online casino gaming. There is one deal that would make the Michigan online industry stand out from the others.

Under the legislation being discussed, those in Michigan would be allowed to access the online gaming and poker only if they’re physically located on a casino property in Wolverine State. There are a few reasons for this caution in the Michigan regulations. One is the state and the Indian casinos are unhappy about potentially losing some of their revenues to online gaming (estimates claim that Detroit alone could lose between $1.5 and $4.5 million if the law passed). If the players were at least physically present on the casino grounds, the casinos could generate revenue from other streams (restaurants, shopping, etc).

Since players are already in a casino, why would they want to play online? This was a question posed by David Schwartz, the director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, when contacted by Vanhulle. “Would you drive to Home Depot to use Amazon to buy something?” Schwartz is quoted by Vanhulle. “I probably wouldn’t, as nice as Home Depot is. I want the convenience of getting something at home.”

The bizarre thing about this bill is, why would anbody want to play online when they’re physically present at the casino? The whole concept of playing poker in the comfort of your house, the convenience factor is completely ruled out.

The biggest issue seems to be avoiding the constituents of Michigan, however. The state Constitution was altered in 2004 with a clause that required any new gaming expansion, live or online, to be put up for poll to Michigan voters. It would be obligatory for those voters to approve of the action by a majority vote. The only clause that works around those alterations is if the gaming comes from any of the state operations or the Indian casinos – those arenas can do absolutely anything without approval from the voters.

Whether or not any such bills in the state of Michigan moves forward is highly unlikely. It will also be tough to infiltrate anti-gaming forces, led by anti-online gaming crusaders, to reach out to the voters for their opinions. Bottomo line, let’s not expect Michigan to become the fourth state that avails online gaming and poker anytime in the near future.