Integrity Fees Make Headlines As Michigan Gambling Bill Nears Passage

Seven states joined Nevada in offering sports betting after the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA. One thing that has failed to gain traction is the idea of integrity fees.

Integrity fees are once again making headlines as a Michigan online gaming bill makes its way through the legislative process.

The four major sports leagues have been pushing regulators for the inclusion of integrity fees. So far, they have met with stiff resistance.

New Jersey state Senate President Steve Sweeney, had a strong opinion on integrity fees when that state was going through the sports betting regulation process. He was very candid about his position in an Associated Press article.

“Essentially, the leagues are asking to be paid to allow games to be played fairly. Ironically, they are calling this extortion attempt an ‘integrity fee,’ even while fully aware that providing participants a stake in the volume of betting would amount to what could more accurately be called an ‘anti-integrity fee.’”

Michigan’s stance on integrity fees

Michigan seems to be the first state to entertain the idea of including integrity fees in its legislation. It wasn’t always the case, however.

Initially, Michigan State Rep. Brandt Iden dismissed the idea of integrity fees when introducing H 4926, the Lawful Internet Gaming Act on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The bill passed the House earlier this year, just before the legislature went on their summer break. Apparently, over the break, Iden had a change of heart on the issue.

Iden made headlines after changing his position when he spoke at the US Sports Betting Policy Summit. According to Reuters, Iden reversed his position after “spending significant time with the leagues.”

“In other countries, there is some sort of fee,” Iden said. “There’s a place for that.”

Online Poker Report recently spoke to Iden about the integrity fee flip and the status of the gaming bill.

“I did originally start from a position that there was no place for integrity fees in my mind, but since then I’ve had conversations with the leagues and I do feel there’s a reason to continue the discussion on the issue. That doesn’t mean there’s any determination of what a fee would be. My comment is specific to that I haven’t closed the door on integrity fees. I’m open to discussing it.”

At the end of the day, integrity fees are a maybe.

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Michigan online gaming bill is close

There are three weeks left in the current legislative session. It is back to square one if the bill doesn’t make it to the governor’s desk before the legislature adjourns.

The bill currently sits in the Senate Committee on Government Operations. Movement of the bill is in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, who happens to chair the committee.

“Being in front of his committee is a positive,” Iden said. “Having the Senate majority leader oversee how these bills are handled is important for the legislation because getting his blessing is critical to get passage.”

Even if, and that’s a big if, the gaming bill passes, that doesn’t necessarily mean sports betting is on the horizon.

Earlier in the summer, Iden indicated he would need to introduce separate legislation this fall to legalize sports betting. As expected, the midterm elections put a kink in that plan. Iden now plans to introduce the additional legislation in 2019.

Apparently, it is still “wait and see” when it comes to Michigan online gaming. Will:

  • The Lawful Internet Gaming Act pass the Senate?
  • Gov. Rick Snyder sign the bill?
  • Iden introduce a sports betting bill in the New Year?
  • The bill include integrity fees?

The legislature has until Dec. 20 to send H 4926 to the governor’s desk. Let’s wait and see what happens.

About

Kim Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about poker culture and the online gambling industry. A part-time member of the poker media since 2013, Kim recently sold her marketing business to write full-time while traveling around the world. You can learn more about her work and travels at kimyuhl.com.