With Christmas just a few short days away, Michigan online poker players woke up to an early present on Friday morning. Overnight, Michigan lawmakers passed a bill that legalizes online poker – as well as online casino games – within their state.
The bill, H 4926, passed the Michigan State Senate by a 33-5 vote and it was sent back down to the Michigan House of Representatives for concurrence. Just after 3 am local time, the bill passed by a 71-35 margin.
The final step is the signature of Gov. Rick Snyder which is expected to happen in the coming days.
Once signed, online gaming, including poker and casino, will now fall under the control of the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
The bill was first put forward by Rep. Brandt Iden in September 2017. In June, the bill was referred to the Committee on Government Operations before appearing Thursday night as part of a number of last-minute bills passed before the business year closed.
While the passage of the bill is good news, players are going to have to be patient. Players won’t be playing on regulated sites until 2020 at the earliest. The bill includes a 15-month waiting period before any operator can launch. This gives the newly-created Divison of Internet Gaming 12 months to create appropriate regulations and vet potential licensees.
The legislation also allows for Michigan to join other states – namely Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware – in sharing online poker liquidity. Pennsylvania, which passed online gaming regulations earlier this year, is also expected to be part of the interstate network. The combined population of those five states is nearly 36 million.