Michigan Joins the Fun

26 May 1999
Gambling has been a huge issue in Michigan for the past few years. Since overcoming repeated attempts by a coalition of anti-gambling groups to thwart its efforts, the state has pushed to convert Detroit into a major destination city for casino gaming and seems intent on generating one heck of a lot of gaming revenue. It has zero tolerance, however, for Internet wagering, and a new bill introduced to the State House of Representatives last week could shut the door.

House Bill 4689, sponsored by State Representative James Koetje, was introduced to Committee on Gaming and Casino Oversight May 19 as a measure to amend Michigan law to prohibit Internet gambling.

The first version is short, but certainly not to the point. It clearly designates operating an Internet gambling service from within the state as a felony, however, it's unclear as to whether offering a bet to Michigan residents from outside the state would be illegal. In Subsection 4, it defines a violation as being Internet gambling activity that "originates or terminates, or both, in the state," however, nowhere does it define the terms "originates" and "terminates."

The penalties are up to $5,000 or two years in jail for a first offense and up to $25, 000 or five years for a repeated offense.

The bill has received initial support by the Michigan Family Forum. The Office of the Governor has also endorsed "the concept of the bill."

Some Michigan Indian tribes--the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and the Sault St. Marie Indian Tribe--are opposing the legislation because it seeks jurisdiction over Indian tribes and Indian land.

Look for continued coverage on HB 4689 in coming weeks.

View HB 4689 (5/18/99)

View First Analysis (5/25/99)

Also see: "More from Michican"