Over the weekend Michigan’s push for legal online gaming and sports betting got a bump with the news that Gretchen Whitmer, the state’s Democratic governor and its pro-gambling-expansion lawmakers are close to resolving their differences.

That’s a major concern for a state where successive governors have spoilt the legislature’s attempts to legalize online gaming on each of its previous two attempts.

Rick Snyder, Whitmer’s Republican forerunner, surprisingly vetoed a bill just days before Christmas 2017, while Whitmer refused to put pen to paper 12 months ago.

The same reason was given by both — that online casinos could cannibalize the state’s lottery revenues, which contribute a lot to Michigan’s school fund.

As reported by Casino.org, in the last fiscal year, the fund received nearly $1 billion from the Michigan Lottery, seven percent of which came from online games. Whitmer’s worry is that these games are much alike the slots offered by online casinos.

Progress Finally

WKAR, the local radio station reports that the legislature and governor’s assistants spent the weekend going over proposed Senate amendments to bills which were passed by the House in October, which comprises online gaming and sports betting.

As reported to WKAR Sunday by State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D–East Lansing), the breakthrough indicates a negotiation may have been reached on taxation rates, and that the governor has received guarantees over the school fund.

Hertel told WKAR, “I believe we’ve made a lot of progress with stakeholders and the administration on coming to an agreement. The administration had some real concerns and we took those into account. We’re going to make sure that the school aid fund is healthy going forward.”

The seeming progress with the Whitmer administration could set the bill up for a full Senate vote on Tuesday, one of the closing days before the legislature breaks for Christmas.

Big Demands

Previously, State Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Township), the bill’s main sponsor, had regretted Whitmer’s unwillingness to come to the negotiating table. The administration insisted taxes and licensing fees to be doubled for online gaming and sports betting, and recommended online slots to be dropped.

Brandt thought this would make the market shaky for prospective operators and stakeholders. However, he raised the taxation rate a bit for the bill which passed the House in October.

Hertel seems to have had more success restarting discussions with the governor, who came back to the table last week.

Now the bill goes to the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee Tuesday, where it is expected it will be accepted for a vote later that day on the Senate floor.

In case it is passed and then signed by the governor, Michigan will become the fifth state in the US to permit online gaming and the 20th to approve sports betting since the US Supreme Court shot down PASPA, the federal law which banned it.