We’re a half-decade into legalized online poker in america and just three measly states have launched their online gaming industries with a fourth — Pennsylvania — close to joining. That’s it. With all the hubbub about sports betting in the past several months, it seems like online poker is on the back burner. But as it happens, Michigan Rep. Brandt Iden is still working hard on getting online gaming going in his nation and still thinks there is a chance it could happen before the end of the year.
Iden Working Hard
Iden has been pushing House Bill 4926 for a couple years now, having first introduced it in September 2017. It obtained through committee and he had wanted to see it pass through the House by Thanksgiving of that year, but unfortunately, that did not happen. On the bright side, the bill carried over for this season, so he didn’t have to start all over again.
2018 has been more successful. Iden obtained his bill through the House in June, but of course still needs to get the full Senate pass it and then get the Governor’s signature. All in around three weeks. This is vital, as unlike this past year, the bill won’t roll over to 2019, as bills not to carry over to odd-numbered years in Michigan. Bills are efficiently alive for a couple of decades, so if it goes no further, Iden might need to start over next year. It is not like there would be no opportunity for internet gambling, but needing to restart the procedure from the very beginning is obviously much more difficult.
“We’re close to the finish line,” Rep. Iden told,”and it is a top priority of mine to see it come through to the end.”
It’s Up to the Senate
The thing with the bill having passed the House is that Iden’s job is basically over and now he has to wait to see what the Senate does with it. I would assume he is talking to various Michigan state , but finally, he does not have a lot to do with the procedure any more.
Iden told Online Poker Report that Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof is the key player, as he is the Chair of the Committee on Government Operations, which is where the bill is at the moment. The committee is not scheduled to meet, but Meekhof could make it happen if that’s what he needs.
“Being in front of his committee is a positive,” Iden told OPR. “Having the Senate majority leader oversee how these bills are handled is very important to the legislation because getting his blessing is crucial to get passage.”
Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall is also significant, as he is a supporter of the bill in the Senate. Problem is, he is not returning to the Senate in 2019, therefore if the bill does not progress this season, Iden will need to hope he finds another Republican champion in the Senate.
One of the challenges for the bill is that while it is not absolutely necessary, it’s generally wise to have the nation’s stakeholders’ — especially the three commercial casinos and the Native American tribes — support. In late 2017, it seemed that the casinos were onboard, though at the middle of this season, tribes weren’t completely in favor yet.