Choppy Waters for HB 4689

9 March 2000
In May of 1999, Michigan State Rep. James L. Koetje proposed legislation, HB 4689, that would make accepting wagers over the Internet from persons in Michigan illegal. The bill passed unanimously in the House on November 3, 1999 and was sent to the Senate the following day.

It hasn't been smooth sailing, however, in the Senate, where the bill has been tossed from one committee to another accumulating amendments throughout its travels. Several amendments were suggested this week by the Senate Committee on Gaming and Casino and more are expected when the committee meets again (at an undetermined date).

The biggest snag appears to be the bill's impact on financial institutions. According to an unnamed source, several banking associations are dissatisfied with the bill because it would require Michigan banks and credit unions to verify whether any check, debit card, credit card and demand payment is intended for Internet gambling. (Considering the high number of transactions even small banks handle daily, it's a pretty tall order to fill.)

According to Gary Moody, the vice president of government and public affairs for the Michigan Credit Union League, the House version of the bill was asking financial institutions to stop payment on transactions without the banking patron's authorization, which is illegal. If the Senate version includes the suggested, it would remove requirements that financial institutions legally could not perform, and make compliance voluntary. "We're financial institutions, not the police," Moody said. "We can't be used for solving every social ill legislators want to prevent."

Additionally, the unnamed source doesn't believe the bill will ever become law. "Simply put, it's a mess," he said. "The representative that introduced it has very little understanding how the Internet works and how difficult--impossible--it would be to enforce." The source told IGN that the bill will die quietly after reaching the full Senate.

IGN also unearthed HB 4690, which would amend the statutory sentencing guidelines provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure to add the Internet gambling offenses established in House Bill 4689. HB 4690 was introduced in May 1999 with HB 4689. It passed in the House March 1 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary March 2.

Supplementary documents:

  • HB 4690 (introduced)
  • HB 4690 (passed)
  • HB 4689 (passed)
  • First Analysis of 4690 (2/16/00)
  • Committee Summary of 4689/4690 (3/7/00)
  • Suggested Amendments to 4689 (3/7/00)

  • Click here to view additional documents, including more coverage of HB 4689.