Christmas Gift from Governor Whitmer Will Legalize Online Poker in Michigan

December 13th, 2019 | by Kaycee James

Online poker in Michigan looks to be a dead cert following positive motions by the state’s House and Senate.

Gretchen Whitmer

Online poker in Michigan looks to be a formality as players await the signature of Governor Gretchen Whitmer. (Image: Wikipedia/Cjh1452000)

In what’s almost a case of déjà vu, poker fans in the Great Lake State now find themselves waiting on the signature of one person.

In 2018, Michigan lawmakers look set to enact a new set of online gaming laws. Following positive votes from the House and Senate, HB 4926 found its way onto Governor Rick Snyder’s desk.

Snyder Sunk 2018 Bill

Having previously shown a level of interest in the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, Snyder made a last-minute U-turn. Citing “unknown” budgetary issues and concerns regarding problem gambling, the bill was vetoed and hopes of online poker in Michigan were crushed.

Fast-forward to 2019 and hopes of regulation were reignited in March. A lull proceeded a flurry of activity in December that put online gaming back on the table.

After approval from the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee on December 10, Michigan’s online gaming bill moved a step closer to reality.

In essence, the current bill under review is an expanded version of the one that fell just short in 2018. At its core, HB 4307 makes provisions for online poker, casino gaming, sports betting and fantasy sports.

This time around, certain clauses ensure money from the industry goes to the School Aid Fund and First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund. Additionally, HB 4307 sets out new tax rates and licensing fees.

With compromises made and the Senate approving the bill, the House followed suit on December 11. All that’s needed now is a signature from Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Governor in Favor of Online Poker in Michigan

Unlike her predecessor, Whitmer was part of the recent negotiations and said she’d accept the updated document.

“This is a good, bipartisan solution made possible by working together on a complex issue and the governor looks forward to reviewing this package once it hits her desk,” Tiffany Brown, spokeswoman for the Governor, told the Detroit Free Press.

With that being the case, online poker in Michigan now looks to be a formality. Although no official timeline has been set, chief negotiator on the bill, Senator Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing), said operations could be live by Q1 2020.

“My hope is that by March Madness, it will be live,” Hertel said to the Detroit Free Press.

Although many still feel that state-based online poker is far from ideal, it’s the best option US players have right now.

Adding Michigan to the list of online-friendly regions will not only give more players the ability to ante-up but, potentially, encourage more states to enact their own gaming laws in 2020.


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