Michigan Rep. Brandt Iden, sponsor of the Online gambling billson Friday, called the vetoes a ploy to monopolize the money coming into the lottery for the state in a phone interview with Online Poker Report.
When it looked likehad finished a four-year journey to legalize online gambling, and set up the chance of internet , Snyder, that will not be returning as governor as he’s being termed out of office, pushed the inevitable back at least a year.
“The veto pen came out for my whole gaming package, which is incredibly disappointing,” Iden said. “We had no idea this was coming. We had all of the stakeholders supportive of this package and we’d alleviated any issues, so this is a really surprising outcome.”
Iden stated the reasons provided by the governor’s office for the veto included concerns regarding the potential revenue impact of online gambling, specifically that it would pull money from the state-run lottery, and a general expansion of gambling.
Neither were valid reasons based on Iden, who said he intends to reintroduce the internet gambling bills when Michigan begins the 2019 legislative session in January, in addition to his previous strategy of introducing a bill to establish the framework for lawful sports betting.
Iden stated his understanding is that the primary reason for the veto was to protect the earnings of Michigan’s state-run lottery, a portion of which supports Michigan’s public school system.
“I think it’s unfair because you are taking a state entity such as the lottery and trying to compare it to the free-market system of other online gaming platforms,” Iden said.
Iden pointed out that New Jersey lottery revenue has improved with the presence of online gaming. However, there’s also the, and there are no countries with a history of internet lottery and iGaming to graph any effect.
Iden called the veto a”ploy to monopolize cash coming to the lottery,” which he takes exception to as a free-market Republican.
“If your problem is a concern for the lottery, you are never going to be comfortable with an iGaming bill because it impedes on the state’s monopoly on the lottery,” Iden said. “That is not a free-market approach.”
Gambling enhanced, not expanded
In response to the governor’s concern about iGaming being an expansion of gambling, stressing the ease of access to play online from one’s own home, Iden said it has always been his position it is not an expansion.
“With 23 tribal casinos throughout the state plus commercial casinos,” anybody can gamble in Michigan at any moment,” Iden said. “This is a new platform for people to play .”
Iden also pointed out that, if the governor were truly concerned about the expansion of gambling to the world wide web, he would not have approved of the lottery going online in 2014.
Efforts in Michigan
Iden stated he will reintroduce the internet gambling bills while continuing to work on a framework for sports betting. He noted that iGaming is in a fantastic position with all the stakeholders — Indian tribes, commercial casinos, the horse racing industry and the City of Detroit — on board at the moment.
“We have got great legislation, good bills that I worked and vetted for two years,” Iden said. “We have a bill that people agree on, that everybody feels they have a vested stake in. It’s a great place to begin from. All I can do is hope that all of the partners are willing to stick with the positive progress and bring it to fruition.”
Michigan will have a new governor in 2019, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer. While her stance on online gambling is unknown, the transition can not be a negative given the veto.
There’ll also be many new lawmakers taking office, and Sen. Mike Kowall, that has led this issue for four years in his chamber, is being termed out of office. The turnover creates some doubt that the vote totals for the Lawful Internet Gaming Act — 33-5 from the Senate and 71-35 in the House — will still be there.
Iden expects it will take a while to educate the new legislators on the matter, so just because the bill passed the first time around doesn’t mean it will be moved quickly from the new session.
“I watched over the course of the past two years the time needed to educate people on these problems and get them up to speed on where we are,” Iden said. “I will have to do this again, but I’m fully prepared to do so and confident we will have a successful 2019. It took a while to get here, and this is a bump in the road, but I’m confident it will get done.”