Hearing for Online Gaming Bill in Michigan Set for Wednesday

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Michigan State Senator Mike Kowall continues to lead the charge toward regulated online poker in Michigan.

Like a handful of other states, Michigan has been here before.

A state representative introduces legislation that would legalize online gaming and the proposal passes a committee vote, only to fall short of becoming law due to a variety of other factors.

But, like those other states, Michigan online poker players are on high alert as legislators will once again consider legalizing online gaming in 2017.

In 2016, Michigan legislators discussed the prospects of online gaming through the middle of December before dropping the subject as the legislative session ended. Two months later, Michigan is at it again as Sen. Mike Kowall has introduced the Lawful Internet Gaming Act.

The discussions of online gaming are certainly not new to Michigan. The state has been considering the possibility for years and already offers lottery games over the internet, which was approved in 2014.

Kowall’s bill would authorize online poker and online casino-style gaming in Michigan and it actually requires that states include poker in their online gaming offerings. It would also allow for Michigan to enter into interstate agreements with other states that offer online poker.

Under Kowall’s proposal, only Michigan casinos would be eligible for online gaming licenses. There are 26 casinos in Michigan – three commercial casinos in Detroit and 23 tribal casinos throughout the state.

Committee Vote Set for Wednesday

The bill put forth by Kowall and five Senate co-sponsors will come before the Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform on Wednesday for a hearing and vote on Wednesday, according to the Poker Players Alliance.

Last year, an online gaming proposal – also put forth by Kowall – was approved by the committee, but was never given a vote by the full Senate.

The prospects for the first hearing would appear to be positive as Kowall and the bill’s five co-sponsors make up the majority of the nine-person Senate committee.

Michigan becomes just the latest state to consider online gaming legislation in 2017, joining California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Currently, only Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey offer online poker, but Pennsylvania, and potentially New York, is shaping up to become the first state to legalize online poker since 2013.