Michigan legislators voted to pass the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, H 4926, in the final minutes of the 2018 session.
While not a sure thing, most believed Gov. Rick Snyder would sign the bill before leaving office. He did not.
Instead, Snyder vetoed the bill that did what many considered the impossible — finding a compromise between the tribal and commercial casinos.
MI online gaming back to square one
It is fair to say, the governor’s veto took the online gambling industry by surprise. Snyder claimed the reason was the potential of online gambling to siphon revenues away from the online lottery and land-based casinos. Snyder’s intent to protect the Michigan Lottery paramount to his decision to kill the bill.
Michigan Rep. Brandt Iden, the bill’s sponsor, does not believe the reasons are valid. It is all supposition as there are no states with online gaming and an online lottery with which to use as a model — yet.
Pennsylvania, however, has legislation on the books. Its online lottery expanded this year, and the Keystone State will be launching online gaming this year. And of course, one only has to look to New Jersey to see the popularity and revenue potential of online gaming.
Iden spoke to Online Poker Report shortly after the veto and expressed the setback.
“The veto pen came out for my entire gaming package, which is incredibly disappointing. We had no idea this was coming. We had all the stakeholders supportive of the package and we had alleviated any concerns, so this is a very surprising outcome.”
The future of MI online gaming
Iden plans to reintroduce a new bill in 2019. He is confident that Michigan will benefit from online gaming legislation. With some work, he believes it is likely the bill will pass again.
Additionally, he is committed to crafting sports betting language that was absent in the initial bill.
“We’ve got great legislation, good bills that I worked on and vetted for two years. We have a bill that folks agree on, that everyone feels they have a vested stake in. It’s a great place to start from. All I can do is hope that all the partners are willing to stick with the positive progress and bring it to fruition.”
Democrat Gretchen Whitmer now sits behind the governor’s desk, and a whole host of new lawmakers are taking office. What this means for Michigan online gambling is unknown. Iden is ready to do what is necessary to get additional support for the bill.
“I saw over the course of the last two years the time it takes to educate people on these issues and get them up to speed on where we are,” Iden said. “I’m going to need to do that again, but I’m fully prepared to do so and confident we will have a successful 2019. It took a long time to get here, and this is a bump in the road, but I’m confident it will get done.”