A new online gaming bill has been introduced in Michigan which has a unique twist to it.
The bill proposes to allow online gambling in the US state but only to those gamblers who are present inside the premises of the existing brick and mortar casinos in the state will be allowed access to these online gaming sites.
This unusual provision has been added in a bid to circumvent a state law that requires any form of gambling expansion to be put to voters for approval via a referendum.
Measures that relate to expansion projects involving the state’s existing casinos are however exempt.
In addition to several tribal casinos, there are three commercial casinos currently operational in the state, all in Detroit – the MGM Grand Detroit, the Motor City Casino and the Greektown Casino. Some local gaming experts believe that the structure of the bill will also help ease opposition to the proposed gambling expansion while at the same time help boost state revenues.
According to Sen. Mike Kowall, who has sponsored the bill, the brick-and-mortar condition would bring stability to the current situation where gamblers are accessing illegal online gaming websites and offshore operators are the ones making a profit from these game play.
The new bill will stop this and also provide much needed protection to the customers. Kowall also highlighted that the bill will help to create a new revenue stream for the state.
However industry veterans are not convinced this model would help increase casino revenue.
David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vega pointed out that people inside casinos would already have access to gaming options and furthermore internet gambling forms only a small portion of the total market.
In a statement Schwartz said
You're definitely constraining the market by making people go to a casino to play online. Would you drive to Home Depot to use Amazon to buy something?
I probably wouldn't, as nice as Home Depot is. I want the convenience of getting something at home
Senate fiscal analysts have also said that the state might not benefit significantly from the new measure. The bill states that internet gaming revenue will be taxed at 10 percent. Land-based casinos are currently taxed at 19 percent.
According to a report from the non-partisan Senate Fiscal Agency, since online gambling is not expected to generate sufficient tax revenue for the city, Detroit could end up losing revenue in the range of $1.5 million to $4.5 million as a result of players switching from traditional formats to online gaming.