Michigan Online Gambling Bill Introduced, iPoker Revenues Jump in New Jersey and Delaware

Posted on April 18th, 2016 by Daniel Ryder
Michigan online gambling Mike Kowall

Michigan online gambling and poker could soon be offered to residents if State Senator Mike Kowall’s co-sponsored legislation makes its way through the legislature. (Image: senatormikekowall.com)

Michigan online gambling could soon become reality after five state senators introduced legislation late last week titled the “Lawful Internet Gaming Act.”

Authored by State Senate Majority Leader Mike Kowall (R-District 15) and four other state senators, three Democrats and one Republican, Senate Bill 889 states that the “Internet has become an integral part of everyday life,” and that “Internet wagering on games of chance and games of skill is a core form of entertainment for millions of individuals worldwide.”

“It is in the best interest of this state and its citizens to regulate this activity by authorizing and establishing a secure, responsible, fair, and legal system of Internet gaming that complies with the United States Department of Justice’s (DOJ) September 2011 opinion,” the bill reads.

The 2011 DOJ opinion declared that the longstanding Wire Act that prevented payment processors from facilitating transactions for Internet wagering was misinterpreted, and that the law applied only to online sports betting and not general gambling.

Michigan Bill

Kowall’s motion calls for online gambling licenses to be distributed to vetted and qualified operators at a cost of $5 million each, with a portion of the fee going towards future gambling taxes. Operators will pay taxes monthly at a rate of 10 percent of their gross revenues.

SB 889 also mandates that online casinos cannot offer sports betting and must assure the state those under the age of 21 won’t have access to the interactive websites.

Perhaps most importantly, the statute also advocates for interstate compacts and potentially international agreements, a vital component to creating robust and sufficient player pools for Internet poker.

Jersey and Delaware

There hasn’t been much reason for state lawmakers to advocate for online poker since states began legalizing the card game on the Internet back in 2013. Revenues have fallen short of premarket projections and players have become frustrated over limited cash game tables.

But just three months into 2016, the forecast seems to be clearing for online poker in the two states that still report iPoker revenues, New Jersey and Delaware.

The Garden State received the bump it anticipated from welcoming PokerStars in March. Though the world’s largest digital poker platform officially commenced in New Jersey on March 21, the state reported a 10.5 percent financial rise with $2.46 million in peer-to-peer revenue.

March was New Jersey’s best month for iPoker since April 2014. Regulators and players are hoping April 2016 is even better.

Meanwhile, the resurgence in popularity in Jersey has seemed to extend south across the bay to Delaware where the First State experienced an unexpected iPoker increase.

Poker rake and fee for March totaled $37,324, a dazzling 32 percent surge from February. Although it marked Delaware’s highest online poker total since last May, year-over-year iPoker in March 2016 compared to March 2015 was still down 14.5 percent.

Regardless, the promising month is welcomed news for Delaware, as it seems the ongoing marketing push by PokerStars’ parent company Amaya in New Jersey is to some degree bleeding to the neighboring jurisdiction.

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