Michigan State Senator Mike Kowall introduced Senate Bill 889, an attempt to establish and regulate online gaming in the nation's 10th-most populated state, according to OnlinePokerReport.
"The Lawful Internet Gaming Act" calls for legalization of poker and casino games online, provided by a maximum of eight licensed operators. Those operators would be on the hook for 10-percent taxation with a $5 million licensing fee in advance of future taxes owed. The bill has moved to the Committee on Regulatory Reform.
The introduction of the bill comes as somewhat of a surprise. A number of states have been identified as on the forefront of possible iGaming expansion, but Michigan hasn't been one of them. Industry experts had mostly named Pennsylvania, New York, and California as the main battleground states that could be next to join Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada in offering online poker.
If SB 889 does become law, Michigan would not only join those states in iGaming philosophy, but in iGaming, period. The bill includes language that leaves the door open for shared liquidity with others states and even possibly other nations. It mentions the possibility of "multijurisdictional" agreements with other governments where online poker is legal "including any foreign nation."
One major roadblock for states such as California that have attempted to push iGaming has been tribal gaming interests. The Michigan bill identifies all land-based casinos in the state as potential operators, according to Poker Industry PRO ($), including tribal casinos. However, those tribal casinos would be required to "waive their sovereign immunity for online gaming and agree to pay the applicable taxes."
"Bad actor" language — which would potentially exclude some operators based on operational history — is excluded from the bill.
Check out the bill in full here.