Michigan, the state of the Great Lakes, is now attempting to become a progressive state in regards to online gambling. Casinos have always existed; in fact, Michigan still has MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit Casino and Greektown Casino. These are considered some of the most successful casinos in the the US. But times are changing, and Michigan is looking to be one of the first to embrace that change.
The Importance of the Online Gaming Bills
There are two online gaming bills that are being discussed in Michigan. The first one is SB 889 and the second one is the SB 890 bill.
The SB 889 bill was introduced by the state senator of Michigan who is Mike Kowall. This was back in April, and nothing really materialized from the introduction until now.
The bill is basically a Lawful Internet Gaming Act. This act is meant to allow the state to offer online poker and casino games to all of its citizens, as long as they are regulated by the state of Michigan.
The second bill, or SB 890 as it is referred to by the state, is a tandem bill that amends the state’s penal code. The amendment is to make an exemption for gambling under the Lawful Internet Gaming Act. It is an vital component to Michigan’s attempt to introduce lawful gaming to a state that loves gambling more than most people know.
One of the bills most prominent champion, John Pappas, who is the president of the Poker Players Alliance (or the PPA) said that this bill was meant to protect. Sure, Michigan is attempting to regulate the online gambling arena to appropriately tax and regulate it. But, as Pappas points out, the more important aspect of having these bills passed is that Michigan online gamblers will finally be protected.
Pappas worries about the increasing number of Michiganders who are gambling online already. There a number of offshore online gaming options that some gamblers are using that are not regulated. This puts many Michiganders in danger of fraud or their identities could be compromised. And these are just some of the dangers that Pappas believes these bills could protect people from.
The Arguments Were Heard by the Committee
The committee that was in charge of hearing the arguments for the bill was a nine-person committee that was headed by Michigan State Senator Tory Rocca.
Four people, including Pappas, voiced their reason why the bills should be passed. The other three were representatives of PokerStars/Amaya Gaming and were very much in favor of opening up an online gaming industry in Michigan. Some of the testimony spoke on the projected revenue that Michigan might enjoy due to online gaming.
The three representatives also spoke on what they intend to do to protect Michiganders from fraud and compliance issues. They also detailed the importance of keeping an eye on Michiganders themselves. There is a real need to make sure that a gambler is not hurting him or herself. The people from PokerStars/Amaya Gaming are adamant about making sure that gamblers are protected against themselves.
The committee was also subject to how the bills would affect casinos that already exist in Michigan. One aspect of the bills is that online gambling operating licenses will favor tribal casinos since they are restricted to them. Michigan wants to honor what tribal casinos are entitled to, and these bills are just an extension of the desire.
Another aspect that had to be discussed dealt with commercial casinos that already had licenses and operated in Michigan. These casinos will also have the opportunity to get first dibs on the licenses offered to start an online gambling site.
Obtaining the licenses would cost a casino 5 million dollars. The committee also heard that only eight licenses would be offered to the casinos at first.
These bills are definitely changing the way casinos operate and will give Michiganders a safe-haven where they can trust every bet and trust who they are gambling with. The committee adjourned without voting and will not come back to hear the pleas until the sixteenth of June. This might not have been the goal of the hearing, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.