Online Poker Legislation Emerges in Michigan

MichiganOnline poker continues to be a subject that many states in the US are considering. Currently, only Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey offer the option but several states have introduced legislation this year to possibly become the next to offer such gaming options online. Michigan is one state that was considering online poker legislation last year but by the end of the legislative session, the proposed bill had not moved forward. Earlier this week, legislation was introduced by Senator Mike Kowall that could see online poker as well as casino gaming be offered in the state.

The Lawful Internet Gaming Act, S 203, is the new bill proposed by Senator Mike Kowall that already has five additional co-sponsors. The measure has the potential to move forward as Kowall and the co-sponsors are all part of the Senate Committee.

The new bill would call for rules and regulations to be crafted by state regulators as far as licensing and the operation standards are concerned. These rules and regulations must be created within one year of the bill being signed into law. Only casinos that are licensed in the state will be eligible for online gambling licensing and that does not seem to be a cap on how many licenses will be provided.

Players have to be located within the borders of the state to take part as well as be 21 years of age or older. The bill also includes language to create interstate compacts with other states as well as jurisdictions. This would be similar to what Delaware and Nevada have done in regards to online poker. The two have a deal to share player liquidity in the hopes of helping their respective online poker industries grow.

One section of the bill discusses the game of poker specifically, very different than other measures from other states. In the bill, it reads that the types of online games that are to be offered must include poker, but are not limited to poker. It seems that operators can offer casino games but must include poker in the mix.

Licensing fees have been broken down into three categories, operator, platform provider and vendor. The operator license will last for five years and cost $200,000 for the first year. The four years after will cost $100,000 each year. A license for a platform provider will cost $100,000 for the first year, with $50,000 paid each additional year. This license also has a five year time frame. As far as vendors are concerned, a license would have an upfront cost of $5,000 with $2,500 paid each year thereafter, with a licensing time frame also for five years.

The licensing amounts are quite low when considering the amounts set for other states. In New York, operators are being asked to pay $10 million in upfront licensing fees. Pennsylvania has a slightly smaller amount set at $8 million.

Now that the bill has been introduced, the measure has been referred to the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee. The Poker Players Alliance is reporting that a hearing and vote should take place on the measure by next week. The vote should be in favor of the measure as the five co-sponsors are state senators who are also part of the Reform Committee. These members include Rebekah Warren, Curtis Hertel, Rick Jones, Marty Knollenberg and Bert Johnson. The committee has only nine members so it is expected that the bill will pass.

We shall see by next week if the measure is able to move forward. We may see that Michigan creeps in as the next state to offer online poker gaming in the US.