Legislators in the US state of Michigan are debating a new bill which would legalise online gambling in the state.
House bill H4926 was submitted by Michigan State Representative Brandt Iden on Tuesday and is similar in makeup to Senate bill 203, which was first proposed by Senator Mike Kowall earlier this year with exceptions in the area of tribal gaming and taxation.
Under the previous senate bill 203, licensed Michigan casinos and federally recognised tribes that waive their sovereign immunity in respect of internet gambling would be able to receive a online gaming licence. House bill H4926 does not include such a requirement, stating: “A federally recognized Michigan Indian tribe may conduct internet gambling if authorized by a compact the tribe has entered into with this state under the Indian gaming regulatory act…”
The bills allow for a period of one year to determine the necessary rules and regulations to govern licensing and operation of online gambling sites in the state, imposing a mandatory age limit of 21 on all gamblers in the state.
Among the more notable inclusions in the legislation are provisions to allow Michigan to enter into interstate compacts with other states and jurisdictions where online gambling is legal and a requirement that all online gaming operators in the state should offer online poker.
Both bills would require online gambling firms applying for licences in the state to pay an upfront application fee of $100,000 with five year licences costing $200,000 during the first year and $100,000 for every subsequent year. Five year platform and vendor licences are charged at $100,000 and $5,000 upfront respectively.
Senate bill 203 calls for a 10% tax rate on online operators, while the new bill H4926 calls for a higher rate of 15% on all operators. Under the terms of the bill the rate can be lowered if the state agrees a new or amends and existing compact with a tribe wishing to conduct online business.
House bill 4926 has been escalated to committee stage and will be examined by the committee on regulatory reform over the next few months to determine if this legislation can move forward and become law. Bill 203 has already passed this stage, with the committee recommending that it be adopted, however since then progress has stalled, prompting the introduction of this new bill.
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