Online Gambling Progresses In Michigan
The Michigan Senate Regulatory Reform Committee voted 7-1 to approve S203, sponsored by state Senator Mike Kowall, who recently introduced other iGaming bills. The measure now will go before the full Senate. A similar bill reached the same point in 2016 but a vote was not taken; however, this year a majority of the lawmakers on the panel are co-sponsors of the legislation. The legislation would allow both commercial and tribal casinos to have gambling sites.
Witnesses at the Michigan hearing included representatives from Amaya /PokerStars, the Poker Players Alliance and the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. Officials from the Gun Lake and Pokagon Potawatomi tribes stated they oppose the measure. Two Detroit casinos are said to be “on the fence” and MGM Grand Detroit officials said they are neutral on the issue.
The bill has been presented as a consumer-protection measure—that online gambling is happening in an unregulated environment and the state is not receiving any revenue from it. Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas said, “Each and every day that the state goes without regulation is another day that consumers are left unprotected. Doing nothing is simply not an option. Michigan consumers and taxpayers should not have to wait for commonsense protections.”
Michigan’s iGaming market is estimated to eventually reach more than $300 million. The legislation is designed to help the state’s static gambling market. Detroit’s three casinos won $1.39 billion in 2016—only 0.7 percent higher than 2015—and dropped 6.8 percent in December 2016 compared to December 2015.
Michigan’s land-based gambling market, including more than two dozen commercial and tribal casinos, is about $3 billion. An online lottery began in 2014.
In addition to Michigan, other states considering online gambling are Pennsylvania, California, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New York. Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have regulated iGaming, with a combined market of slightly more than $200 million.