Michigan could have a good chance of passing online gambling this year. Or not.
Two different reports this week painted vastly different pictures of the dynamic at play in Michigan and the possibility of it becoming the newest state of offer legal online poker and gambling.
The rosy picture: iGaming passes this year
This spring, an iGaming bill popped up without much warning in Michigan, and a hearing was held earlier this month.
The general feeling after the hearing was that there were a lot of unanswered questions, on a number of different fronts. Most concerning was the absence of tribal gaming’s support, and the neutrality of commercial casinos.
The fact that the casinos are not yet 100% on board would seemingly lead to problems for the bill.
But a Card Player report featured comments from the Dave Biswas, chief of staff and legislative director for Sen. Mike Kowall, the sponsor of SB 889. According to CP, Biswas said “I don’t see why [the bill] wouldn’t go through this year.”
A statement like that from staff of the bill’s sponsor could simply be portraying a more optimistic future for the bill than actually exists, or it could be in line with reality. Right now, it’s not clear which is true.
The gloomier picture: Problems ahead
On the other side of the coin was a report from Chris Krafcik at GamblingCompliance (paywall).
Krafcik paints a more pessimistic view, reporting that “hurdles to final passage, including unanswered questions about whether the measure squares with the state’s constitution, remain.”
That would seem to square more with reality — after all, almost no form of gambling expansion at the state level generally finds smooth sailing.
Either way, progress for iPoker in Michigan
Both CardPlayer and GC reported that there would be a committee vote — likely an affirmative one — before heading to the full Senate.
Either way, the Senate would have to act on online gambling before it adjourns in June. That would send it to the House, which is in session through December.
Does the bill have a good chance of getting through the Senate? The proof will be in the pudding once it actually reaches the Senate floor, assuming it makes it that far.
It appears the smart money is still on 2016 setting the stage for legislation next year, but passage of the bill is perhaps not as big of an underdog as we may have thought.
But an online gambling bill being in play at all — with some positive momentum — is still a good development for the future of U.S. online poker and gambling.
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