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Michigan online gambling bill through the house

Just when the pessimists were predicting another fruitless year for online gambling in Michigan, the state lawmakers confounded them on Tuesday night by passing Rep. Brandt Iden's online gambling bill on a 68 vs. 40 vote.

It was a close run thing – the Legislature adjourned on the same day as bill HB H 4926 passed.

The bill would allow State-licensed land casinos to obtain licenses to offer internet gaming and pay an 8 percent tax on GGR based on intrastate activity, with a minimum age for punters of 21 or over. Total cost for each application and five-year licensure would be $800,000.

“It will allow internet gaming as it relates to all of the currently allowed games in a brick-and-mortar casino, that’d be poker, roulette, black jack, craps,” Iden told local media, noting that his legislation also sets up the framework for legal sports betting, although he said the Michigan Gaming Control Board first would need to legalise sports betting state-wide following the recent US Supreme Court decision striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

“The gaming commission is looking for the Legislature to take the initial step,” said Iden. “They believe they have the parameters to do it, but one of the things we need to set up is that tax rate.”

Iden said tribal casinos would be included in the online gambling provisions.

“I believe that the tribal casinos ended up with 90-plus percent of what they wanted in this,” Iden said, indicating a “poison pill” that would rescind online gambling from tribal casinos if the federal government rules that tribal casinos are not able to participate in gaming off-reservation.

According to a House Fiscal Analysis, tax revenue from online gambling would be divided four ways, Iden said. Five percent would go toward school aid, with 5 percent for transportation, 55 percent to the city of Detroit and 45 percent to the Internet Gaming Fund, which will administer the online gambling program.

The bill now moves to the state Senate, but likely will not be taken up until August this year.

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