(Population of 9.91 million as of 2014)
Back in 1999, Michigan outlawed the use of the Internet for gambling purposes, though that was repealed a year later. The topic didn’t resurface in the state until more than a decade later when the Department of Justice reversed the 1961 Interstate Wire Act in December 2011. That inspired CBS Detroit to suggest that iGaming could soon be legal in Michigan.
“Implications from a revenue standpoint are significant – the change would mean that people could play poker online and be a part of a game room at one of the Detroit casinos, it would also include purchasing lotto tickets on the web,” they said in an article. “This ruling does not mean that Michigan will automatically allow internet gambling with all of its casinos and tribal casinos but the possibility for that change is now there as the Snyder administration and lawmakers are expected to investigate the issue further.”
Unfortunately lawmakers did not investigate further and that was about as far as the iGaming conversation got in the state. Even so, there are still a few things that indicate Michigan may be receptive to iGaming in the future. For one, Michigan is fairly gambler-friendly in that they have plenty of land-based casino options and are always looking to increase revenue. Additionally, U.S. Representative John Conyers, who represents Michigan’s 13th congressional district, has publicly supported iGaming, though he is not in a position to move state legislation.
In April 2016, Michigan State Sen. Mike Kowall introduced a bill. SB 889, known as “The Lawful Internet Gaming Act,” would authorize online poker and casino games, restricting play for players 21 and older and a proposing a $5 million licensing fee up front.
A hearing in May 2016 further established that Kowall’s bill has been three years in the making, without vocal opposition and was received fairly well. Questions still lingered about if tribes would relinquish a portion of their tribal sovereignty, the difficulty of limiting the number of licensees and why the state’s commercial casinos are neutral about the bill.
The bill made it past a committee vote in the Senate in June of 2016. While Kowall was confident the bill could pass in 2016 post-budget negotiations, the bill was placed on hold and faced some hurdles when it was revisited in January 2017 (like crafting the bill to govern the three commercial Detroit casinos and use a different regulatory process for the 20 American Indian facilities).