Online casino gambling and sports betting had a decent election night at the Michigan polls.
While online gaming legislation wasn’t on the ballot in Michigan, the future of it might have been.
Rep. Brandt Iden, the state’s champion for online gaming legislation, was in a heated race to keep his seat. Luckily for him and online gambling fans, he narrowly squeezed out a win. The race was very close, and it took until Wednesday morning for Iden to confidently declare victory.
On the other side of the coin, one of the state’s most vocal online gambling critics, Attorney General Bill Schuette, lost his bid for the governor’s mansion.
Last week, we saw two significant results that may make it a bit easier to get online gaming legislation on the books–finally.
Where is the status of online gaming legislation?
Earlier this year, the Michigan House of Representative passed the Lawful Internet Gaming Act by a decent margin of 68-40. Following the passage, the legislature went on summer break, and the bill now sits with the Senate.
The bill will have a tougher road to passage there, but it has the support of State Sen. Mike Kowall. Kowall seems as eager as Iden to get something passed.
There was some discussion about getting the bill to the governor’s desk by the end of the year. That would require passing major legislation in a lame-duck session.
The urgency initially came from the fact that Schuette would likely veto the bill if he became governor. Additionally, large turnovers in both chambers due to term limits means starting the coalition building all over again if it waits until next year.
Does that same urgency remain? It is hard to know for sure. The bill has not moved an inch this the fall. That might change now that the polls have closed. It just seems like the legislature is running out of time to make a go of it by the end of the year.
After the 2018 election, what’s next?
If, and that’s a big if, the Lawful Internet Gaming Act passes by the end of the year, legal online sports betting has a few more hurdles ahead of it.
Iden, the sponsor of the bill, admitted at the time that the language isn’t sufficient for sports betting and it would require additional legislation.
That presents its own set of challenges, mainly getting the Detroit’s commercial casinos and the Tribal casinos on the same page.
If the Lawful Internet Gaming Act doesn’t pass through the Senate by the end of the year, Iden will have to start fresh in 2019.
Iden has been working tirelessly on the legislation. It is probably fair to say it would be a massive disappointment for him if it did not move forward.
With Iden safely back in the House and one of the state’s most prominent online gambling critic without the ability to veto, the road to legal online casino gambling and sports betting in Michigan is bright.
Or at the very least, brighter than it would have been if a few close election races went the other way.