Michigan takes step toward legal online gambling
Lansing — Gamblers in Michigan would be able to play and bet on casino games online under bills passed 68-40 by the House on Tuesday night.
The bills would allow casinos to obtain licenses to offer internet gaming and require an 8 percent tax on the activity. Only people over the age of 21 would be able to participate.
“It will allow internet gaming as it relates to all of the currently allowed games in a brick-and-mortar casino, that’d be poker, roulette, black jack, craps,” said Rep. Brandt Iden, the lead sponsor on the bills.
The legislation also sets up the framework for legal sports betting, Iden said, but the Michigan Gaming Control Board first would need to legalize sports betting statewide.
“The gaming commission is looking for the Legislature to take the initial step,” said Iden, R-Oshtemo Township. “They believe they have the parameters to do it, but one of the things we need to set up is that tax rate.”
The vote follows a May U.S. Supreme Court decision that found the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act violated states’ rights when it prohibited states from allowing sports betting.
Iden said tribal casinos would be included in the online gambling provisions.
“I believe that the tribal casinos ended up with 90-plus percent of what they wanted in this,” Iden said, indicating a "poison pill" that would rescind online gambling from tribal casinos if the federal government rules that tribal casinos are not able to participate in gaming off reservation.
Online gambling would mean more revenue for the state, according to House Fiscal Analysis, and deter Michigan residents from traveling out of state for online gambling.
Tax revenue from online gambling would be divided four ways, Iden said. Five percent would go toward school aid, with 5 percent for transportation, 55 percent to the city of Detroit and 45 percent to the Internet Gaming Fund, which will administer the online gambling program.
The bill likely will not be taken up by Senate until the fall.