After a 22-hour day of voting on Friday, December 21st, Republican lawmakers in Michigan made a final legal imprint on what is known as the “Lawful Internet Gambling Act“. The $1.3 billion bill looks to authorize legal online casino, poker, and sports betting across the Great Lake State. The online gambling bill managed to pass Senate and House votes, with the Senate passing it by a 33-5 margin and the House voting in favor 71-35.
Legal Online Gambling in Michigan
The passing of the bill introduced Michigan as the fifth state in the US to allow online wagering to their residents. It was preceded by Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The state will most likely follow the Jersey model of a synchronized launch of online gambling platforms from both tribal and commercial casinos.
Online Gambling Licensing Fees
Casino establishments would need to obtain an online gambling license from the respective Michigan Gaming Control Board. With an application fee of $100,000, a first-year license cost of $200,000, and a yearly renewal fee of $100,000, the bill is considered largely benevolent and profitable for all parties.
Residents of Michigan would be able to enjoy online casino and poker content, along with the announced sports betting platforms if they meet the legal age requirements.
A Closer Look at the Bill
The H 4926 bill has undergone several crucial amendments in order to obtain legal approval by both House and Senate. Most of these refer to the portion of tribal casino establishments which had already operated on the territory of Michigan, as well as some specifics on the tax policy. According to Rep. Brandt Iden, who took it upon himself to lead the push on the online gambling bill two years ago:
“This is the first time this has gotten done in a state with both commercial and tribal interests. That’s what I’m most proud of.”
Tribal and Commercial Casinos
Under the latest amendments of the passed bill, a 15-month launch delay would take place in order to allow enough time for all casino licensees to be prepared. This is especially important to tribal casinos in Michigan, which would use this time to convert to commercial casinos.
Giving them some time to adjust, these casinos would be able to launch their online gambling platforms around the same time as commercial ones, eliminating the risk of them getting a head start.
The bill’s tax policy underwent some changes in respect to the three Detroit-based casinos – these operators are now charged an additional 1.25% tax aside from the regular 8% taxation fee imposed by the bill.
Nevertheless, legislators have retained its transparency, precisely illustrating the division on tax revenue – to the state and city budget, to fund schools and transport, agriculture and the fight against compulsive gambling, roughly outlined.
What’s Next for Online Gambling in Michigan?
With a pending signature from Governor Rick Snyder, lawmakers are fairly positive that the bill will reach his desk before the end of his term in January. The legislation states that the bill would take effect 90 days after Snyder’s signature.
Also, the new Division of Internet Gaming would have one year to communicate licensing rules and administration to casino operators. Should Snyder sign the bill, online gambling in Michigan would most likely launch in the first quarter of 2020.