Michigan joined the growing club of states looking to legalise gambling activity this week with the passage of Bill H4926, otherwise known as the Lawful Internet Gaming Act. It went through by a 68-40 margin and just in time before closure of the current legislative session.
In essence the Bill, which needs to undergo Senate approval, will enable Detroit’s three casinos to offer internet gambling by 2019 at a cost of $800,000 per application for a five year licence. Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos may also offer online gaming, subject to the amendment of existing compacts. But as yet, the tribal operators remain opposed to any expansion of the existing gambling sector in the state.
The Bill, which was introduced by Republican Brandt Iden last September and has since laid in the long grass, includes an eight per cent tax on online gaming revenue as well as provisions for multi-jurisdiction agreements. It also stipulates that the gaming equipment used to provide online gambling must be located physically within the casinos.
Sports betting is also referenced in the Bill, but according to Iden that will be covered off under the auspices of new legislation that he intends to introduce this autumn. In its present, form the Bill allows the Michigan Gaming Control Board to establish guidelines for online sports betting, but the legislature is seeking a specific framework for sports betting in the state.
Such legislation would set the regulatory foundations for brick-and-mortar casinos looking to include sports betting within their existing offer. It would also cover, crucially, the issue of what level tax should be set at.