OPR: Michigan Online Poker Bill Author Wants House to Pass It

According to a report by OnlinePokerReport.com (OPR), Michigan State Representative Brandt Iden, who introduced an internet poker bill in September, wants to see it passed by the state House by Thanksgiving. While there are certainly major question marks surrounding the bill’s support, Rep. Iden said he is optimistic about its chances.

“Through the month of October, I am hoping to put on plenty of headway,” Iden informed OPR. “If I had my way, we will be able to get everyone to the table and put a bill together and through the House before the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll see how achievable it is, but that’s my goal.”

H 4926, which was introduced about a month ago, would legalize and regulate online poker and potentially other online casino games, in the state of Michigan. Prospective operators would have to pay a fee just to submit an application for a license and then, if granted a license, pay a $200,000 fee the first year and $100,000 per year then. Software providers would pay a $50,000 application fee, $100,000 the first year, and $50,000 each year thereafter.

Taxes would be 15 percent of gross gaming revenue.

The licensed casinos of Michigan would be eligible to apply for a license. Federally recognized Michigan Native American tribes might also apply, given their compact with the state authorizes them to do this (or if it’s been amended, as they may not have foreseen internet gaming once the compact was drawn up).

The bill makes it possible for tribes to come to an arrangement with the state — via a gaming compact that is amended or new — which would set a lower tax rate.

Most of the remainder of the base rules are exactly the same as we’ve seen in other legislation: players must be 21, Michigan can enter into interstate compacts with other states, etc.. I mentioned that the bill would legalize online poker and internet gambling. The interesting thing about this is that operators to provide online poker are really required by the bill, with games being optional.

Iden told OPR that perhaps the biggest hurdle is getting all twelve tribes (who run 23 gambling venues) and the three Detroit commercial casinos on board. Not one of them had representatives at a hearing for the bill, however, one tribe and the three casinos wrote letters against online gambling in general, though to the way it was written, not in opposition to the bill.

“They’re constantly seeking to expand their operations with new gamers. They realize they have generations of gamers that are going to be taking a look at new platforms, and if they don’t get on board they’ll miss bus,” Iden said to OPR.

Tribes currently have sovereignty over how their gaming operations run. Rather than all being regulated under one state umbrella, they are regulated by their own compacts with the state’s National Indian Gaming Commission and the most.

“I am telling them, ‘I have the urge to work with you to make this legislation right, but should youn’t come forward we’re going to move anyway,”’ Iden told Online Poker Report. “I think the message is starting to resonate. I am not naïve. I do understand there are some hoops we are going to have to jump through so everyone believes it’s equitable.”

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