MICHIGAN ONLINE POKER BILL ADVANCES
 
Senate committee votes 8 vs. 1 to progress Sen. Kowalls SB889
 
Wednesdays gathering of the Michigan Senates Regulatory Reform Committee wasted little time in voting forward to the Senate floor a bill authored by Sen. Mike Kowall and proposing the intrastate legalization of online poker.
 
SB 889 has seen remarkably quick progress since it was introduced in April this year by the Senator, advancing despite allegations of a conflict of interest centred on the Senators wifes involvement in a local lobbying firm  On Wednesday the committee advanced the bill to the Senate floor on a 8 to 1 vote, with most of the committee members already aligned in support of both the measure and Senator Kowall, who is the Senate Majority Floor Leader.
 
However, time is now of the essence due to legislative deadlines later this month and the fact that there is at present no companion bill in the state House, which means that the Senate bill will have to go to the House if it is approved.
 
SB889 will restrict online poker licensing to existing land casino licensees in the state and makes provision for a $100,000 application fee and a hefty $5 million charge for licensing, although that will be offset against future taxes, which are to be levied at 10 percent of GGR.
 
The proposal also calls for the formation of an oversight body tentatively titled the Division of Internet Gaming, which would report to the Michigan Gaming Control Board.