State senator Mike Kowal introduced a Senate Bill No. 899 on Friday, April 18, proposing regulation of online poker in Michigan. The bill, aptly named Lawful Internet Gaming Act, revolves around the notion of protecting the citizens from gambling on unregulated sites and emphasizes additional revenues and jobs that this legislation is certain to create.
Online Poker in Michigan: Bill stipulations
Apart from these general notions, the proposed Bill goes in detail on how the regulation and licensing process would work and under what circumstances the individuals would be granted access to licensed gaming operators.
The full list of games is yet to be determined, but it is clear that sports betting will not be added to the roster. All gambling activities would, naturally, be limited to persons at least 21 years of age.
If the Bill is passed, the special division will be created with a sole purpose of regulating the online poker in Michigan. The division would also be in charge of issuing the operators’ licenses, according to the regulations cited in the proposal.
The licenses will be issued to eligible applicants for the period of five years. After that, the operators are allowed to apply for a new license, which will be issued if all the requirements are met, again for the period of five years.
The stipulations on who would be able to apply for a license are quite strict. The only eligible entities will be casinos under the Michigan gaming control and revenue act and federally recognized Indian tribes that already operate a casino.
The Bill stipulates that no more than eight (8) gaming licenses would be issued in the state, and all applicants will be subject to a $100,000 nonrefundable fee. Successful applicants will have to pay a lump sum of $5,000,000 to be issued a license.
Online poker in Michigan and other regulated states
Although indirectly, the Bill provides for the possibility of expansion and creation of compacts with other states, especially the three that have already regulated online poker. The relevant part reads as follows:
The division may enter into agreements with other gaming entities, including foreign entities, to facilitate, administer, and regulate multijurisdiction Internet gaming to the extent consistent with state and federal laws and the laws of any foreign jurisdiction.
It is also interesting to note that the proposal does not make any references to the “bad actors” clause, which means it does not automatically disqualify the entities which enabled online poker in the States during the period when such an activity was considered shady, to say the least. This leaves the door open for PokerStars once the regulation comes in force, should they decide it is a battle worth fighting.
Who will be the first to the finish line?
New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware are the only three states which regulated online poker. Several other states have been trying to introduce their own regulation for some time now, but with very limited success.
Although many see California as the real game changer, things in that state have been stale for a while. Right now, Pennsylvania seems like the most likely candidate to join the ranks of regulated states.
The Bill to regulate online poker in Michigan is certainly a welcome news for all poker fans in the U.S., but it has a long way to go before actually becoming a reality – if it even happens. But it is at least a move in the right direction.