The year began off on a bittersweet note for those wanting regulated online poker in Michigan.
Supporters, led by Michigan State Representative Brandt Iden, had been frustrated and disappointed by the veto from the Lawful Web Gaming Act. Iden and now-former State Senator Mike Kowall worked hard to pass the bill via each houses from the legislature at the end of 2018, only to determine it vetoed on December 28 by then-outgoing Governor Rick Snyder.
But hope lived. Iden was confident he would pass the law once more, this time with State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. Lawmakers saw the advantages from the industry and would assistance it again.
The stumbling block was going to become new Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Little did they understand how a lot of an obstacle she would be.
Short-Lived Positive Start to 2019
With an updated 2019 Lawful Internet Gaming Act in location, Iden introduced it within the type of HB.4311 in the Home, and Hertel took it up as SB.2186 in the Senate.
But prior to the bills might be pushed through their respective committees and on towards the floor for votes, the Michigan Division from the Treasury came to a Might two hearing within the House Ways and Means Committee with issues.
These concerns trickled more than to Whitmer, who began to publicly express her personal misgivings about online gaming. Her primary issue was the assertion that on-line casino games – not poker – would reduce in to the income from state lottery games, thus hurting the College Aid Fund that benefits in the lottery.
Regardless of how Iden disputed the speculative figures in the Treasury and focused on the additional revenue the state would receive from online gambling, Whitmer and also the Treasury had been unconvinced.
Iden Willing to Talk
While Iden had produced no apologies for his bills or the claims of income, he did eventually agree that some tax price modifications might be around the table.
Nevertheless, Whitmer and also the Treasury came back with huge tax and licensing charge increases that would make a lucrative on-line gaming industry unfeasible.
The proposed tiered tax structure was:
-Under $2.5 million in income: 8% tax
-$2.5 million to $4 million: 16% tax
-$4 million to $8 million: 32% tax
-Over $8 million: 40% tax
The tiered structure for licensing charges was:
-Up to 1,200 slot games: $200K application charge
-1,201 slots to 1,999 slots: $700K application charge
-2,000 slots or more: $1 million application charge
As well as annual licensing renewal charges would be tiered:
-Up to $2 million: $175K
-$2 million to $5 million: $350K
-Over $5 million: $500K
Iden said the proposed changes were non-starters and not meaningful solutions.
A current interview with Iden by Online Poker Report at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States shows that no progress has been made. Further, Whitmer will not speak to Iden about the issue of on-line gaming.
“I’d adore to have a direct conversation with her about this,” Iden said. “She refuses to engage with me straight. I’ve been talking to her employees. I welcome the opportunity, for the record, to sit down using the governor any time and discuss this issue.”
He also noted that the aforementioned proposed tax prices from Whitmer demonstrate that she has “no understanding of what’s taking place in the industry.”
Iden went on to say that since on-line slot games appear to become the issue for Whitmer and also the Treasury, he would be willing to talk about legalizing only online poker and table games, although that would eliminate the majority of income that online gaming could produce.
With that, Iden noted that the administration should “better educate themselves” on the whole on-line gaming proposal and its success in other states like New Jersey. “The reality that the governor’s office is ignoring the specialists and merely listening to Treasury, who’s not an expert in this problem and has very little understanding, is problematic.”
Strategy to Revisit Later
In the present time, you will find numerous contentious issues standing between the Democrats and Republicans in the Michigan political realm. Iden is afraid that online gaming could get caught within the mess and not receive a fair shake.
Iden told OPR that Hertel is speaking to Democrats on the Senate side of the legislature and Representative Rebekah Warren is speaking to Whitmer on behalf of Iden and in support of on-line gaming.
In the end, Iden wants to revisit the issue in the fall months, following the budget is decided and other key issues are settled or off the table. He plans to continue requesting a meeting with Whitmer and hopes it’ll be possible within the coming months.