Published: June 13, 2018

Michigan House votes to legalize internet gambling, final passage possible in fall

LANSING — Michiganders could legally gamble online under a bill that passed the House of Representatives Tuesday on a 68-40 vote.

The bill would allow people at least 21 years old to register with one of Michigan’s three casinos in Detroit and 23 tribal casinos across the state and gamble from their websites.

There would be an 8% tax associated with the online gambling with 55% of the revenues going to the Detroit casinos, 35% going Michigan Internet Gaming Fund to administer the new program, 5% to the state school aid fund and 5% to the transportation fund.

“It will allow internet gaming as it pertains to all the games currently allowed in a brick and mortar casino … you’d be able to play that online,” said state Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Kalamazoo. “If (a casino) doesn’t have a physical presence here, they’re not going to be able to do it.”

The vote came on the last day of session for the Legislature before they leave for a 10-week summer break. So it won’t be taken up in the Senate until lawmakers return in September.

The internet gambling bill is the first step toward also legalizing betting on professional sports in Michigan, Iden said.

“The Michigan gaming commission is looking for the Legislature to take the initial step and we have to set up the tax rate for sports betting,” he said. “And we took the first step toward that today.”

The bill comes as the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for legalized sports betting across the nation. The justices ruled 7-2 last month that a 25-year-old federal law that has effectively prohibited sports betting outside Nevada by forcing states to keep prohibitions on the books is unconstitutional. The ruling could set the stage for other states to expand legalized gambling as a source of government revenue.

“When we come back in the fall, this is going to be at the top of the agenda,” Iden said. “Michigan should be at the forefront of that.”

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