Michigan Joins the Rush to Regulate Online Gambling

May 24, 2016
Law Book

At the beginning of 2016, people were focused on a handful of states when it comes to online gambling regulation in the United States. Most of the focus was on California and Pennsylvania with a little bit of the limelight on New York. Blowing all expectations out of the water has come Michigan, who joined the fray within the past month with introduction of a bill for regulating online gambling in the state. What’s more is that the bill has language that’s much more aggressive and open than anything we’ve seen in the bills for other legal gambling states so far.

What’s Included in This Bill

The details for the bill, known as SB 889, are still a bit up in the air, but the sponsor of the bill State Senator Mike Kowall (who faces his own difficulties, see below) doesn’t seem to have much opposition at all. Something that’s interesting is that he’s been working on this bill for at least three years in meetings and other work, and he is of the opinion at this point that the only real opposition to the bill will be those who are against the expansion of gambling in the first place.

As far as what’s included in the bill, things are pretty interesting because the wording at this point in time includes things like allowing people from anywhere in the world, where it’s legal to play, to get in on the action. There are potential issues with this, from a legal standpoint, that will need to be examined at some point. There are also the typical issues with what tribal agreements are allowed as far as how they mesh with existing laws for tribal gaming. With all of that having been said, it looks to be pretty promising.

Controversy Surrounding Mike Powell

An interesting bit of controversy has sprung up with the bill’s sponsor Mike Powell. The Michigan State Senator’s wife works as a lobbyist for a company known as MGS, and that company has backed the bill. This could potentially create a conflict of interest, but what’s most likely is that the opposition will just use it to detract from the actual content of the bill and the merits of the legislation.

As far the situation with Powell, it’s beyond clear at this point that he had put a substantial amount of work into the bill itself, meeting with all affected parties etc., long before his wife ever worked for MGS. It’s also important to point out that his wife is not working on any aspect of that project for the online gambling regulatory bill at the company in question. Still, the opposition will look to do anything to try to distract from the situation. While it’s true that Michigan may need to shore up some of the laws involving money and lobbying in politics, this does not seem to be a shady situation at all after even just a cursory look at the facts.

The Chances of This Bill Passing

Because Powell has went through the trouble of getting the tribal interests aligned before pushing this bill, he’s very unlikely to face any opposition from that angle, which is completely the opposite from what’s happened before in California and other areas. Other business entities have also been consulted to the point that they aren’t expected to present much opposition, so the bill has decent chances of passing if they can get past the red herring of Powell’s wife and the usual anti-gambling crowd.