Online gambling regulation in Michigan

There has been approved a curious bill in Lansing (Michigan) where online gambling will be legal but just within casino walls.

The plan is to allow gamblers at Detroit’s three commercial casinos and casinos owned by American Indian tribes to legally play online poker and card games within casino walls say Michigan could net millions of dollars in new tax revenue. (As so far gambling website are unregulated in Michigan and pay no state or city taxes).

Online gambling regulation in Michigan
Online gambling regulation in Michigan

A key point of S0203 is its definition as a measure that aims to combat unauthorized online gambling, protect local players and provide additional tax revenue through legalization and iGaming regulation. Internet gambling supporters have appointed to the fact that local players have been forced to resort to the black market because of the lack of regulated services, exposing themselves to unregulated operators located in tax havens.

However the bill could set up a fight between Detroit’s casinos and those run by tribes, because tribes contend the rules stack the deck against them by requiring them to give up their sovereign immunity to get licensed, which means agreeing to be regulated by the Michigan Gaming Control Board and pay taxes, as Detroit’s commercial casinos do.

It is important to note that, according to S0203, local tribes will be able to offer online gambling options, if they are finally legalized. The lack of tribal support can become one of the biggest obstacles to the adoption of proposed legislation.

Also there are some negative opinions about it, like the one from David Schawartz (director of the Center of Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas),who warn that any advantage to Michigan may be small at best, since people already can gamble there and internet games are still a small component of the overall gambling market, so this bill is definitely constraining the market by making people go to a casino to play online, as people wants the convenience to play from home.

MCM Grand Detroit, a commercial casino in the largest city in the state, has decided to maintain for the moment a neutral position, though it’s not a stretch to say they like the concept.

The vote is pending from the Senate, however, given the impulse that iGaming projects have gained in other states such as New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Nevada… Michigan lawmakers may feel more comfortable to move forward with the proposed measures this year. However mentioning unlike the other status, which allow people play online games from their couch, Michigan world will be the only one that requires players to visit a casino.

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