There have been several gaming-related developments and legislative updates this week to be aware of. On Tuesday, December 1 the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) waived the 15-session day requirement for Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting Rules, putting launch one step closer. Additionally, four new bills were introduced, including HB 6456, HB 6462, HB 6463, and HB 6464. The House Regulatory Reform Committee took up SB 991 allowing for multijurisdictional poker, while the House Ways and Means Committee reported with recommendation SB 661, SB 991, HB 6456, HB 5862, HB 6462, HB 6463, and HB 6464. 

Big picture on the legislative front, it appears that the legislators may be planning to: (1) authorize multi-jurisdictional poker (when permitted by federal law); (2) move forward on authorizing historic racing at racetracks in the state of Michigan after local approval is also given (there is only one operating track currently, with plans for a second); and (3) allow for a form of online raffle that charities can conduct that will be regulated by the MGCB.

The Rules Finalization and the various legislative developments are discussed in detail below.

Rules Are Effective/ JCAR Waiver

The Michigan Gaming Control Board drafted rules for both Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting, which were submitted by the Treasury to JCAR in October. The rules were required to be before JCAR for 15 session days before they may go into effect unless JCAR waives the remaining days. JCAR waived the remaining session days at its committee meeting on Tuesday, December 1. The rules were filed with the Secretary of State on December 2, and took immediate effect allowing for the MGCB to finalize the licensing process. The MGCB has several procedural processes it is working diligently on with the casino operators and platform providers. 

Multijurisdictional Poker

SB 991 would amend the Lawful Internet Gaming Act to allow for multijurisdictional poker. Senator Hertel, the sponsor of the bill, testified at the House Regulatory Reform Committee meeting on Tuesday that the bill would resolve certain oversights that were made during drafting of the iGaming and iSports bills. He explained that in light of current federal law interruption only slots were supposed to not cross state lines as to not compete with the Lottery.   The bill passed and was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, where it was taken up on Wednesday.  In the Ways and Means Committee meeting, SB 991 was reported with recommendation with a vote of 9 yeas, 1 nay, and 0 passes.  The bill now moves to the floor, where action could be taken by the end of the year.   

Historical Horse Racing (HHR)

The Michigan Horse racing industry has long been seeking to be allowed to have Historical Horse Racing (HHR) machines at authorized tracks.  SB 661 would amend the Horse Racing Law to allow for HHR at licensed racetracks. The bill was taken up during the House Ways and Means Committee meeting on Wednesday. Testimony was taken on behalf of the State Bar of Michigan Animal Law Section and Attorneys for Animals. The testimony emphasized the effect of HHR on horses, citing animal cruelty and bad public policy to prop up a dying industry. Support for the bill includes Northville Downs, and AmWest Entertainment. Substitute H-5 was adopted and reported with recommendation with a vote of 10 yeas, 0 nays, and 0 passes.  It now also moves to the floor for a vote.

The Michigan Harness Horseman’s Association issued a statement following the adoption of a substitute bill indicating that changes to the bill were unacceptable and would be seeking additional modifications as the bill moved to the House Floor.

Below Is a Set of Newly Introduced Michigan Gaming Legislation

The following new bills were taken up in the House Ways and Means Committee Meeting on Wednesday, December 2nd:​

HB 6456

This bill would amend the Traxler-McCauley-Law-Bowman Bingo Act by moving oversight of raffle games from the Lottery to the MGCB. HB 6456 is tie-barred with HB 5862, which would allow charities to operate internet raffles. HB 6456 and HB 5862 with substitute H-1 were both reported with recommendation with a vote of 10 yeas, 0 nays, and 0 passes in the House Ways and Means Committee meeting on Wednesday.

​HB 6462

This bill would amend the allocation of taxes in the Lawful Sports Betting Act, reallocating 5% from the Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. HB 6462 was reported with recommendation with a vote of 9 yeas, 1 nay, and 0 passes in the House Ways and Means Committee meeting.

HB 6463

This bill clarifies a terminology reference in the Lawful Internet Gaming Act. HB 6463 was reported with recommendation with a vote of 9 yeas, 1 nay, and 0 passes in the House Ways and Means Committee meeting.

 

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