Kowall Reviewing Michigan Online Gaming Bill
In Michigan, while the legislature is in recess most of August, state Senator Mike Kowall is working on a new draft of the online gambling bill, SB.203. He first presented the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, SB.889, in 2016. It passed the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee and moved to the Senate floor, but died there. This year, Kowall’s bill includes input from Native American tribes, land-based casino representatives and other interested parties. The bill gained numerous co-sponsors and also passed the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee and moved to the Senate. Instead of fizzling out, Kowall is revising it. Kowall’s Legislative Director Dave Biswas said significant progress has been made on SB.203 and the latest feedback has been very positive.
Certain elements have remained the same, including having the Michigan Gaming Control Board create a framework for the industry, allowing the state’s land-based casinos to apply for online poker and casino game licenses and permitting eventual interstate compacts with other states.
One change would give tribes sovereignty to amend their state compacts to regulate their own online gambling sites. They still would be required to follow the Michigan Gaming Control Boards’ age requirements, geolocation technology and responsible gambling protections. In addition, , brick-and-mortar casinos would be required to wait 12 months before launching their online gambling sites, so tribes would have time to make the appropriate changes to their state compacts and prepare to launch their sites.
Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas noted, “Michigan is progressing but rather slowly. The bill was updated a few weeks ago, but not all gaming stakeholders are satisfied with the changes. I don’t think we’ll see any more movement until the end of summer or early fall.”
In September, when legislators return to Lansing, Kowall’s office plans to meet with tribal leaders, casino representatives, gaming board members, lawmakers and other interested parties to resolve details before the draft is finalized and released to the public. That could occur for the 2017 session or, if it takes longer to smooth out differences, online gambling approval may have to wait until 2018.