News from the World of US Online Casino Gambling

An Auburn, Washington casino is taking an innovative approach to increasing its customer base and bringing Vegas casino action to the client. The Muckleshoot Casino is launching a new app in conjunction with Playport Gaming Systems that will allow gamblers to place bets and purchase real money games from anywhere at the casino. 

The games will include Bingo and other games that aren’t played against the house. This marks the first app that requires a gambler to be present at the casino to deposit or to cash out of an online game. In  similar operations in Mexico Playport makes such games available directly from the Playport point-of-sale.

Muckleshoot Casino isn't subject to state gaming laws since it's owned and operated by the Muckleshoot Indian tribe. As such it's in the perfect position to challenge laws that prohibit gambling online. Multiple casino operators are currently facing lawsuits in Washington over casino-style games but Muckleshoot's casino aren't regulated by state laws since it's an Indian casino. This allows Muckleshoot a greater amount of leeway in providing the games.

Playport's proprietary technology provides a real-money gambling solution for lottery retailers and casinos. Playport has established strategic partnerships with a number of partners in the US, Mexico and Canada and is now pushing its brand of online casino gambling entertainment in the U.S.  Playport is maximizing the power of the tribal casinos to advance its agenda since those casinos are under the auspices of federal law, not state laws.

Online Gambling  in Michigan

While Payport and the Muckleshoot Casino are testing the online gambling laws in Washington State, Michigan has approved two new online gambling bills with a state sports betting bill likely to be passed in the future.

The legislation is in the State legislature and will be taken up in the upcoming legislative session. The bills involve the Lawful Internet Gaming Act (LIGA) which will regulate online versions of licensed casino games and create a Division of Internet Gaming to serve under the auspices of the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Rep. Brandt Iden introduced the bill at the end of the spring 2018 session of the Michigan Legislature. If passed, the legislation will allow domestic Michigan casinos to accept bets online and will share the technology for online casinos gambling with Tribal casinos that work with state regulators. 

Parameters

The legislation limits the technology to licensed online casinos that agree to accept  accept bettors only aged 21 or over and use preventive measures to ensure that no one under 21 will bet at the casino. Supporting lawmakers are adamant that underage online gambling can be prevented but skeptics aren't buying it.

According to Iden, many Michigan residents are already wagering online at offshore sportsbooks. By doing so they risk fraud and other online crime schemes, says Idan who promises that the Michigan online casinos will be strictly regulated -- unlike most of the online casinos at which they currently gamble.

Michigan residents live across the border from Ontario Canada where online lotteries and games are legal and readily available, both via offshore companies and through the provincial Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). The Michigan government would like to see the revenue from Michigan residents' gambling activities stay in Michigan and are prepared to make the state one of the first in the US to legalize online gaming for their state's residents.

Forward Thinking

Online gambling is now a 450-billion-dollar industry. Observers believe that regulated online casinos could actually be a positive thing for Michigan residents. It would give bettors access to online wagering options and allow the state to keep that revenue and use it for Michigan's needs. Michigan residents don’t seem concerned about offshore sportsbooks and offshore casinos but they welcome Michigan regulated gambling services as another option.

If the legislation passes the online casinos would be obligated to pay a 100k application fee to obtain an internet gaming license. First-year licenses will involve a fee of 200k. There will be a 100k fee each additional year that the casino retains the license for online gambling.

In addition, the licensed casinos would pay an 8% tax on gross gaming revenues with those revenues earmarked for public service projects. This is the model that has been beneficial and effective in other states. 

State Windfall

In addressing how the gaming revenue will potentially be divided up among public utilities, the bill that's now before the Michigan legislature details the division:

  • Education - 5%
  • state transportation fund – 5%
  • local services in the city in which  the casino is located -- 55% (to be used to hire police officers, develop downtown economic programs, fund anti-gang programs, enhance public safety, road maintenance projects and other quality of life programs. This division will serve as the initial basis for revenue disbursement but there is room for change. 

A portion of the remaining 35% would go towards funding the new Internet Gaming Fund which would be used to regulate and enforce online gaming legislation. The remaining monies will be used to help people who have a gambling addiction. A 2016 report states that an estimated 36k adults in Michigan have a gambling problem.

2018-2019 Legislative Session

The Lawful Internet Gaming Act (LIGA) must still pass the Senate and must be signed by the governor. If it passes Michigan will join the list of states looking to legalize online casino gambling as a source of revenue. States that already have some form of online gambling in place include New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Nevada. New York, New Hampshire, Louisiana, Illinois, Massachusetts and West Virginia are all considering putting legislation for online gambling on the ballot this year.

Until recently online gaming was not available to American residents thanks to the Federal Wire Act. In May 2018 the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)  to allow individual states to make their own sports betting laws. Many states believe that the ruling effectively voids the Federal Wire Act and they are willing to try their luck at testing it through legislation that legalizes sports betting and online gambling in their states. 

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