Michigan online gambling legalisation far from dead

News on 9 Aug 2017

Reports that Sen. Mike Kowall’s latest attempts to legalise online gambling in Michigan had fizzled out in the state Senate have proved to be premature following confirmation by the senator’s staff that bill S.203 is still very much alive and the subject of discussions that could come to fruition this autumn.

To recap on Sen. Kowall’s second run at online gambling legalisation (the first, S.889, died in the Senate last year – see previous reports):

Kowall introduced a very similar bill to his S.889 early this year, designated S.203. This included amendments designed to bring on board tribal and land casino gambling interests.

The bill made it through the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee with numerous sponsors and then appeared to fall flat when it reached the Senate floor; probably why many reports dismissed it as a failed initiative when the legislature went into summer recess.

However, it has now emerged that the bill is still alive and the subject of discussion, with the possibility that it could again be taken up when lawmakers return.

The reports note that the bill’s provisions still include oversight and the creation of a regulatory framework by the state Gaming Control Board, and for land casino operators licensed in the state to apply for online licensing.

The tribal rights and privileges envisaged by Kowalls have been strengthened, giving tribal interests more involvement and sovereignty to change their state compacts and control the online operations of their land casinos subject to responsible gambling, geo-location and consumer safety requirements.

To give the tribes time to implement such changes, there is a proposal that other land casinos be barred from launching online operations for a 12 month period.

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