Dan Podheiser has covered the gambling industry since 2013, but he has been an avid poker player for more than a decade, starting when he was just 14 years old. When he turned 18, he played online poker regularly on U.S.-friendly sites until Black Friday in April 2011.

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Michigan holds hearing for online gambling bills


The Michigan Regulatory Reform Committee met Wednesday to discuss two online gambling bills introduced to the state Senate: SB 889 and SB 890.

Michigan State Senator Mike Kowall first introduced SB 889 in April. The bill creates a Lawful Internet Gaming Act, which would allow the state to offer regulated online poker and casino games. SB 890 is a tandem bill that simply amends the state's penal code to make an exemption for gambling under SB 889.

The bill stipulates that online gambling operating licenses will be restricted to tribal casinos and Michigan commercial casinos already in possession of a license, and a maximum of eight licenses will be issued. The up-front cost to obtain a license will be $5 million.

The nine-person committee, chaired by Michigan State Senator Tory Rocca, heard testimony from four different people in support of the bills, including Poker Players Alliance (PPA) President John Pappas and three representatives from PokerStars/Amaya Gaming.

Pappas, who last week testified in California on behalf of a bill that aims to regulate online poker in the state, reiterated a similar argument in Michigan Wednesday that online gambling expansion bills are primarily consumer protection bills. He noted that Michigan residents are already gambling online on unregulated, offshore sites.

The three representatives from PokerStars/Amaya Jeanne David, Steven Winter and Matthew Robins then took turns detailing how PokerStars manages responsible gambling, identifying problem gambling and potential fraud, and other compliance issues.

The three commercial casinos in Michigan MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit Casino and Greektown Casino all remained neutral on the bill and did not speak at Wednesday's hearing.

The hearing did not result in a vote. The state legislature officially adjourns for the summer on June 16.

Michigan is looking to become the fourth state to regulate online gambling, along with Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

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