Hopes of Michigan becoming the fifth state to pass online poker and gambling legislation were dashed with a veto by outgoing Governor Rick Snyder.
In one fell swoop, Gov. Snyder put an end to monumental amounts of effort by Rep. Brandt Iden, who put all his ducks in a row toward approval of i-gaming regulation. Those ducks included stakeholders such as Michigan’s casinos and Indian tribes, as well as the House and Senate, who approved HB 4926, the Lawful Internet Gaming Act.
The Michigan House voted aye on the measure last June by a 68-40 margin. Roughly one week ago, the Senate approved Iden’s bill on a 33-5 vote. Changes made to the proposal required the House to vote again, resulting in even more nods in agreement at 71-38.
Education Comes First
All that maneuvering has gone for naught, as the Republican governor expressed concerns that legalized online gambling might cannibalize funds from land-based casinos and the Michigan iLottery program that sends lots of money to the School Aid Fund. In 2017, that education fund received $924 million.
Gov. Snyder pointed out that for every $10 that Michigan residents spend on the lottery, the School Aid Fund receives $2.76. Due to a lower tax rate, the particulars of HB 4926 aren’t as generous toward school kids with only 4 cents ($0.04) of every $10 earmarked for the School Aid Fund.
It prompted Gov. Snyder to say this in a letter that spelled out the reasons for his veto:
Such a significant reduction, without a clearer understanding of internet gambling revenue growth potential is concerning.
It may not be any consolation for Michigan online poker and gambling advocates, but the Lawful Internet Gaming Act wasn’t the only bill to get rejected by the lame-duck governor. Snyder’s veto stamp got a good workout the past few days as more than three dozen bills landed in the muck.
Gov. Snyder has reached his term limit and won’t be behind the governor’s desk in 2019. That position will be filled by Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, who has taken a stance in favor of sports betting, but her leanings toward online poker and gambling have yet to be tested.
Iden plans to put her to the test by proposing a new online gambling bill when the next legislative session comes into play beginning on Jan. 9. With new lawmakers taking over, plenty of time will be spent bringing those rookie legislators up to speed with regard to i-gaming regulation.
More of the Same?
Supporters of online poker began 2018 with positivity, as a number of pundits predicted that more states would pass legislation this year. None did. To top it off, Pennsylvania has yet to launch their i-gaming platform, which was approved in 2017.
For those looking for positives as 2019 approaches, the favorable sports betting ruling by the US Supreme Court in May perhaps bodes well for the future. It’s believed that some states may approve and offer sports betting, and tack on online poker and gambling legislation at the same time.