The US state of Michigan, which already permits limited forms on online lottery activity, could see some expansion in internet gambling activity following the introduction of a new bill to the state Senate this week.
State Senator Mike Kowall and four other senators launched a new attempt to legalise online gambling in the state with Senate Bill 889, the “Lawful Internet Gaming Act.”
The new bill leaves open the specific types of online gambling that will be permitted, perhaps to avoid early conflict on the sports betting issue with the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which has caused legal problems in New Jersey (see previous reports).
It envisages the issue of eight, five-year online gambling licenses costing $5 million each to existing state licensed operators or tribal groups within the state, and interestingly creates space for the state to negotiate compacts with other like-minded US states and even international activity provided it is consistent with state and federal laws.
Whilst the $5 million upfront payment may seem a little steep, it does serve as an advance payment on future gaming taxes.
A state tax rate of 10 percent based on gross gaming revenue will be collected monthly from operators, who after the initial five years of trouble-free licensing will have the option to renew for a further five years.
Licence applicants will be required to deposit a non-refundable fee of $100,000.
There are provisions for consumer protection in the form of a 21 years of age minimum gambling age and precautions against problem gambling, along with arrangements for the licensing of support vendors, also for five-year terms.
Oversight of the online gambling activity proposed by the bill will be by the state gaming commission, which will be responsible for developing the detail on provisions such as fraud prevention, problem gambling protection, money laundering precautions and fair gaming.
The bill is currently the responsibility of the Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform, but it’s early days yet, and there remain the usual minefields of conservative, tribal and religious opposition to be cleared.
In his introduction, Sen. Kowall points out that the Internet is now an integral part of modern life, and with it has come entertainment forms such as gambling that are widely accessed by the public and should therefore be properly regulated and licensed to the benefit of state tax revenues.
The senator is a member of the Committee on Regulatory Reform and vice chair of the Senate Oversight and Commerce Committee, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, and the Government Operations Committee.
View the proposed bill here: