Mich. Senator Kowall 'cautiously optimistic' about legalizing online gaming

Mar 24, 2017 9:50 AM

Michigan Sen. Mike Kowall, R-Oakland County, who is sponsoring legislation that would legalize online gaming in the state, told local media he is "cautiously optimistic" his proposal will pass muster in the state's Senate and House of Representatives and make it to  Gov. Rick Snyder for signature.

Sen. Kowall and other lawmakers are planning to make minor changes to the legislation after a recent hearing to try to get approval from all the gambling stakeholders statewide.

"The number one issue is to make sure online gaming is safe while bringing in some revenue into the state at the same time," Kowall said.

It’s suggested Michigan would rake in tens of millions of dollars, if online gaming were legalized.

Leaders at the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe (Soaring Eagle Casino, Mt. Pleasant) and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Indians (FireKeepers Casino Hotel, Battle Creek) say they are concerned the legislation does not respect "tribal sovereignty".

Those tribes, in a joint letter to the Senate Regulatory Reform committee said, "The legislation requires unconditional and unwarranted waivers of sovereign immunity as a condition; oversteps the State's authority to impose its jurisdiction on tribal reservation lands throughout the State of Michigan; and creates a licensing system that is inherently unfair to Indian tribes."

Concern also remains that the Michigan Lottery, which already has an online gaming platform, could also lose revenue.