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Michigan House of Representatives Passes iGaming and Sports Betting Bill

Nine months to the day after being introduced, a bill to legalize and regulate both sports betting and online gambling has been approved by the Michigan House of Representatives.

Introduced by Representative Brandt Iden (R-61) in September of last year, House Bill 4926 would allow the state’s three commercial casinos in Detroit, along with 23 tribally owned casinos, to offer casino and poker games via the internet.

The full House voted 68-40 in favor of passage, sending HB-4926 – also known as the Lawful Internet Gaming Act – to the state Senate for further review.

Here’s how Iden described his bill’s regulatory approach to online gambling when speaking to the Detroit Free Press:

“It will allow internet gaming as it pertains to all the games currently allowed in a brick and mortar casino … you’d be able to play that online.

If (a casino) doesn’t have a physical presence here, they’re not going to be able to do it.”

Michigan would collect an 8 percent tax on gross online gaming revenues, with various state funds receiving a portion of the take.

Iden’s bill was also amended earlier this year to include introductory language on sports betting regulation. If approved by the full Legislature, and signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder, HB-4926 would direct the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to establish a regulatory framework for both brick and mortar and online sports betting.

States were permitted to legalize and regulate sports betting in May, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 26-year old federal ban on the sportsbook industry (outside of Nevada).

Since then, both Delaware and New Jersey have joined the Silver State in accepting legal sports wagers through licensed sportsbooks located in racetracks and casinos.

Iden told the Detroit Free Press that while sports betting was attached to the iGaming legislation, the MGCB has requested additional clarification:

“The Michigan gaming commission is looking for the Legislature to take the initial step and we have to set up the tax rate for sports betting.

And we took the first step toward that today.”

As a result of that request, Iden also explained to Legal Sports Report that a second bill specifically addressing sports betting issues like tax rates, licensing requirements, and the so-called “integrity fee” demanded by professional sports leagues would eventually be introduced:

“A follow up is required and, now that we have the votes on this issue, I know I can put forth additional legislation and have people be supportive.

“When we come back in the fall, this is going to be at the top of the agenda.

Michigan should be at the forefront of that.”

The full House vote took place on the last day of the Michigan Legislature’s most recent session. Lawmakers have since departed for a 10-week break, but as Iden revealed, the House will quickly get to work crafting a second sports betting bill.

Iden was also bullish on HB-4926’s prospects in the Senate when speaking to Legal Sports Report:

“We got bipartisan support, and I think that sends a strong message to the Senate.

Sen. (Mike) Kowall and I continue to work hand and hand on this. He was very helpful in moving this forward in the House, and I will be just as helpful in the Senate.

If we have to work on the language, we will do it together and get this to the governor’s desk.”

Kowall introduced the original Lawful Internet Gaming Act – Senate Bill 203 – in March of last year, but the legislation stalled in committee.