Michigan Renews Online Poker Push

Michigan will once again be considering the legalization of online poker and casino games after a State Senator introduced a bill on the matter earlier this week. Sponsored by Sen. Mike Kowall, SB 0203 contains provisions for the legalization, regulation, and taxation of Internet gambling options provided within the state’s borders.

With the Michigan Legislature set to convene on March 7, the proposed legislation is to be heard and voted on by the Senate Regulation Reform Committee. Here it is important to note that Sen. Kowall and the bill’s co-sponsors are all members of said committee, which probably means that the piece will have a successful first vote.

SB 0203 provides for the legalization of online poker and other online casino games. If enacted, it will allow all casinos within the state’s borders, including tribal ones, to apply for a license for the provision of this type of services. An important provision of the bill reads that all iGaming licensees will be required to offer online poker.

In terms of licensure, interested operators will have to make an upfront payment of $200,000 upon receiving a license and to pay $100,000 each year after that. Licenses will be valid for 5 years. Providers of online gaming platforms will have to pay $100,000 upon obtaining their licenses and $50,000 each year for the next five years. Vendors, or providers of different types of iGaming-related services and software, will be required to make a $5,000 upfront payment and $2,500 ones for the next five years.

As for taxation, operators will have to contribute 10% of their annual gross gambling revenue to the state’s coffers. The tax rate is lower than the one proposed by legislators in other states that are currently considering online gaming legislations. In New York, for example, licensed online poker operators will be required to pay a 15% tax on gross gambling revenue.

Under the Michigan iGaming bill, the state and its licensed operators will be able to establish interstate compacts, which means that online poker shared liquidity agreements may be reached with other states with a legalized online poker industry.

SB 0203 now has to pass a committee vote in order to reach the full Senate floor. Its primary sponsor, Sen. Kowall, led last year’s online poker effort. His bill was voted in the affirmative in the Regulation Reform Committee but never made it to the Senate. Online gambling proponents hope that their push will be successful this year as the legalization of this type of offering is seen as a potential booster of Michigan’s rather stagnant land-based casino industry.

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