On Wednesday, September 13, 2017, the Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee discussed a package of bills seeking to authorize and regulate internet gambling in the state of Michigan.

The package of bills House Bill 4926(“HB 4926”), House Bill 4927(“HB 4927”) and House Bill 4928(“HB 4928”) were introduced last week, on September 12, 2017. Notably, in March of this year a package of internet gaming bills was introduced in the Michigan Senate and were recommended favorably out of the Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform. Senate Bills 0203, 0204, and 0205have not yet been brought for a vote in the Michigan Senate.  A legislative analysis issue related to the Senate Bills pointed out that the legislation would potentially increase revenue to the state and would provide protection to Michigan residents who currently were gambling online without adequate regulatory protection.  The legislative analysis at the time also raised concerns about the ability of technology to enforce age limits and identification of problem gamblers in an online setting.  The analysis also raised concerns that the proposed legislation might implicate the 2004 constitutional amendment limiting expansion of gambling without a statewide and local vote.   

Chairman Rep. Iden (R- Oshtemo Township), primary sponsor of HB 4926 and HB 4927, stated that he believes online gaming will become law due to changing market forces and economy changes and that gaming will change too.  He noted that 3 states have passed online gaming legislation and 6 more have pending legislation.  He cautioned that the process will be slow, that there won’t be any votes next week and he will work with people to get the legislation “correct.”

Several witnesses testified before the committee, including former attorney general Mike Cox (a lobbyist working in support of the bills), Dave Murley from the Michigan Gaming Control Board, David Cookson from the Coalition to Stop Internet Gaming, John Pappas from the Poker Player’s Alliance, and Jeanne David and Martin Stewart from the Stars Group.  Mr. Cox, Mr. Pappas, Ms. David and Mr. Stewart all testified in support of the bill, Mr. Murley was neutral on the bill and Mr. Cookson was against the bill.  No vote was taken on the bills and no amendments were considered.


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