The state of Michigan is on the doorstep of legalizing and regulating online poker as well as mobile sports betting, daily fantasy sports, and online casino games after an all-encompassing package of iGaming bills passed through the Senate’s Regulatory Reform Committee and is headed to the Senate floor.
If approved by the Senate, as it is expected to be, the return of online poker to Michigan will head to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.
If this all sounds familiar it’s because this is not the first time Michigan has been on the cusp of iGaming legalization. Just last year, a comprehensive online gaming bill passed both the House and Senate and simply needed the signature of the outgoing Governor Rick Snyder. Snyder, in one of his last acts in office, unexpectedly vetoed the bill leaving the lawmakers who were leading online gaming charge, back at square one.
Throughout 2019, a renewed effort to resurrect an online gaming bill has been underway and now with less than a week before the end of the legislative session, Representative Brandt Iden, who has been a sponsor for one of the major online gaming bills, and the state of Michigan is poised to finish this multi-year campaign to legalize online gaming.
There’s an optimism that this time there will be no surprises. One of the biggest sticking points leading up to this point was the proposed tax rate on iGaming and sports betting. Iden was lobbying for a lower tax rate as not to overly burden suppliers and operators of the new, legalized industry. Governor Gretchen Whitmer was insisting on higher taxes, fearing that legalizing online gaming would replace the income from the current state Lottery, 70% of the profits of which are used to aid Michigan schools.
Negotiations between the Governor and those looking to pass the bill appeared to have been hashed out. In the bills that passed through committee on Tuesday, sports betting receiving a slightly lower tax rate than initially proposed and iGaming taxes were increased.
Should things go according to plan, the Senate will vote on the iGaming bills as soon as Tuesday afternoon, but before December 19. After that, it will await the signature of Governor Whitmer. Once signed, online poker could be a reality for the players in Michigan before the end of 2020.