Michigan Governor Says No to Online Gambling

Michigan gamblers were left stunned last week when the outgoing Governor Rick Snyder vetoed a number of bills that would have legalized online gambling in the state. The surprise decision left House Bill 4926 and its accompanying HB 4927 and HB 4928 out in cold. They were among the 40 bills vetoed by the governor as he prepares to leave his office.

Michigan’s House of Representatives approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Brandt Iden in June, and in the last week of December, it was approved by the Senate. The bill would have made Michigan the fifth state to legalize and regulate online gambling.

However, Snyder felt that he could not give the bipartisan bill his blessing, despite the fact that it had received support from the commercial casino industry as well as tribal casinos – not an easy feat as other states battle to reach a consensus among industry interest groups on their way to legal online gambling.

Snyder wrote a letter to legislators following his veto decision, explaining why he could not approve the gambling package.

“A significant amount of work went into these bills and getting them to a place where several stakeholders either expressed support or neutrality, and I appreciate that many pro-gaming stakeholders coalesced around these bills,” he wrote. “However, due to largely unknown budgetary concerns, I believe this legislation merits more careful study and comparison with how other states have, or will, authorize online gaming.”

“To be blunt,” he continued, “we simply don’t have the data to support this change at this time.”

Snyder went on to say in his veto letter that he is concerned that a legalized online gambling industry could negatively impact the state’s online lottery program and therefore see a reduction in assistance to aid funds supported by the Michigan Lottery.

He also expressed his concern that the bills would encourage gambling “by making it easier to do so.”

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