Sports Betting and Online Gaming Legislation Passes Michigan House

The Michigan House of Representatives voted Tuesday in favor of a bill that would allow for the legalization of online gambling services, including online casino and poker games, and would pave the way for the legalization of sports betting.

H 4926 was introduced in the state Legislature last September but failed to gain enough traction. The piece was reintroduced early this year, but did not make it much far until yesterday. Tuesday was actually the last day the bill could have seen any movement forward as state legislators adjourned for their ten-week summer break.

The legislative piece now needs to be reviewed and approved by the Senate floor but that will not happen before September. Rep. Brandt Iden, one of the bill’s main sponsors, told media that when the Legislature reconvenes, his piece will be on top of the agenda and that Michigan should no longer stall it.

The state’s online gambling legalization push dates back to several years ago when it reflected a growing buzz over the authorization of Internet gaming services across multiple states. To date, Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware are the only three states that conduct services of this type, with Pennsylvania expected to join the mix soon and after Gov. Tom Wolf signed the necessary legislation last fall.

H 4926 in Detail

If the bill passes the Senate and gets signed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, it would create a framework for the regulated provision of online gaming services and possibly of sports betting. Under the piece of legislation, the state’s three commercial and 23 tribal casinos would be able to offer online casino games and poker.

The bill thus requires online gambling equipment to be located at the state’s gaming facilities. It also allows for potential agreements between multiple states for sharing their player pools. Only people aged 21 or over will be able to gamble online under H 4926. Rep. Iden explained yesterday that players will be able to play online all casino games currently featured at the state’s physical casinos, with some of those being popular table games such as blackjack, craps, and roulette as well as slots.

The bill also contains taxation provisions. Under those, online gaming operators would be obligated to pay an 8% tax on their revenue. Detroit casinos will be contributed 55% of the tax revenue, while 35% will go to a specially created state Internet Gaming Fund. The remaining 10% will be split between the Michigan school aid fund and the transportation fund.

As for sports betting, H 4926 aims to lay the foundation for the potential legalization of that type of gambling activity. Rep. Iden told media that they are yet to determine the tax rate on sports betting and other important regulation matters.

Michigan has joined the mix of states looking to capitalize on the recent annulment of the long-standing federal ban on sports betting. Delaware has already launched full-scale betting services, following the US Supreme Court’s mid-May decision to rule the 1992 PASPA legislation unconstitutional. New Jersey, the state that pushed the sports betting case to the nation’s top court, will accept its first legal sports bet this Thursday at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

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