So far, the Michigan online gambling bill has shown great progress in getting to the governor’s desk later this spring. This is not a surprise. The bill passed both the House and Senate last year. The bill would have become a law, but former Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed the measure at the last minute. Not only would the bill allow online gambling, but it will pave the way for fantasy sports and sports bets. The gambling bill passed its second hearing before the House Regulatory Reform Committee last week.
Current Michigan Gambling Laws
Currently, Michigan law allows horse racing. It also allows live horse racing at licensed race tracks. People can also bet on simulcasts broadcast at the track. In addition, the state allows pari-mutuel betting. There are both commercial and Native American casinos in Michigan. Three of the 29 licensed casinos are commercial, including two large ones in Detroit. Twelve different Native American tribes own the other 26 casinos. The casinos range in size from small ones that have bingo and poker to large Vegas-style casinos. The state also allows charities to hold “millionaire” gambling parties and bingo nights.
The New Bill and New Legislature
There are some small changes in the bill for the 2019 legislative session. There are also new legislators on the committees considering the bill this year. The chairman of one House committee that approved the gambling bill last year is no longer a committee member. However, the bill still passed, with one dissenting vote. The same person who dissented this year also dissented last year. There are nine people on the committee who did not vote for the bill last year. They were not in office then. They won their seats in the November 2018 election.
The gambling bill has undergone some changes as well. Last year’s gambling bill did not have tribal support. This is vital if the new bill is to pass. The Native American tribes wanted the right to claim a share of the potential profits from the new gambling forms. The debate over the tax rate has changed as well. Last year, the bill went through a considerable amount of debate over its tax rate. This bill has a tax rate of 8 percent, and 1.25 percent from operators of the commercial casinos. There was some discussion about raising the tax rate to 16 percent. However, that did not make it into the bill.
Next Steps for Michigan
Another person replaced the governor who vetoed the gambling bill last year. The new governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has expressed her desire to have both online gambling and sports gambling in the state. The legislature has plenty of time to work through any kinks in the bill. Unlike other state legislatures, Michigan’s legislature stays in session year-round. The next stop for the gambling bill is the House Ways and Means Committee. The chairman of the committee is the bill’s author. The bill’s sponsor said he took some time before he reintroduced the bill. He wanted to get the new representatives up to speed on it. Once the committee has approved the bill and any amendments, it’ll go to the House for a vote. Then, it heads to the Senate. Unless there is an unforeseen hurdle, the bill should make its way to the governor’s desk.
Gambling proponents hope that, unlike last year, the governor will not veto the gambling bill during the holiday period. If approved, Michigan will become the ninth state with legalized sports gambling. It will become the sixth state with legalized online gambling.
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