MICHIGAN SENATOR TO REINTRODUCE ONLINE GAMBLING LEGALIZATION BILL (Update)
But attempt faces major legal hurdles in trying to merge state law with federal tribal laws.
Michigan state Sen. Mike Kowell's staff have confirmed that the senator plans to reintroduce his online gambling legalization bill, which failed to make it through the last legislative season.
The current draft allows tribes to apply for website licenses either as a commercial venture, licensed and taxed by the state, or through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) as an amendment to tribal-state regulatory compacts.
“We’re working on trying to do something this year,” Dave Biswas, Kowell’s legislative director, said of ongoing meetings with commercial casinos, tribes and international online giant Amaya Inc.
“We’ve been able to work with the casinos, the tribes, Amaya and the different companies. Once we have everyone on the same page – and we’re pretty close to that – I’m sure the bill will make its way around again. At the end of the day they will all be supportive.”
Several legal and government experts have opined that Sen. Kowell's measure may be over-ambitious in trying to merge state gaming law with components of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and could run into serious opposition as a consequence.
Some have pointed to the recent federal court ruling prohibiting the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California from taking off-reservation wagers, which is currently on appeal by the tribe in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Other complications could arise from tax and state-tribal compact considerations and the question of whether a de facto expansion of gambling requires a constitutional amendment or two-thirds approval of the state Legislature.
So far land casino operators have taken a neutral position on Kowell's efforts.