Michigan Passes Net Betting Act

18 January 2000
Last week, while you were trying to find something to do with that mountain of canned food you stockpiled for the catastrophic Y2K apocalypse, Michigan Governor John Engler was busy enacting a law that makes it illegal to offer online gambling to minors in that state.

The cybercrime bill, introduced as Senate Bill 562 by Majority Floor Leader Mike Rogers (Rep.), addresses cyberstalking, death threats, weapon sales, and yes, online gambling. In a nutshell, Act 235 amends the Michigan Criminal Code by calling for $2,000 fines and/or two years in prison for illegally offering online gambling to Michigan residents.

The bill wasn't the first Internet gambling prohibition act introduced in Michigan. You may recall IGN reported last year on House Bill 4689, which was introduced to Committee on Gaming and Casino Oversight on May 19. The bill, sponsored by Representative James Koetje, passed unanimously (107-0) in the House November 3. For its last recorded action, it was introduced to the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Gaming and Casino Oversight November 4.

Similar to HB 4689, Act 235 reaches beyond Michigan borders by claiming jurisdiction over violators outside the state who attempt to take bets from persons within the state. Further, it states, "A violation or attempted violation of this section may be prosecuted in any jurisdiction in which the communication originated or terminated." It's not very likely, however, that website operators will be tried in Mauritius or Kalmykia for violating Michigan laws.

Jurisdictional delusions are nothing new in terms of the U.S. approach toward legislating Internet issues, however, the new law packs a nasty punch when it comes to implications on gaming-related sites that don't accept wagers. The most consequential aspect of the law could be the amending of sections 750.305 and 750.305c of the Penal Code, making it illegal in Michigan to publish or distribute betting betting information such as betting odds and teletype tickers. Depending on how you interpret the language of the amendment, it's possible that the state of Michigan will fall into good times courtesy of a phenomenal chunk of money that's divisible by $2,000.

Suggested methods for enforcement are not included in the act.

Click here to view Act 235.