If Michigan is to regulate online gambling, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has to sign off on the legislation, and those prospects don’t look so rosy at the moment.
Gov. Whitmer went on Michigan Radio recently and threw shade on the idea of legalizing online casinos, telling all who would listen that her priority is not to mess with the status quo that is the Michigan Lottery. A good portion of Michigan’s retail and online lottery proceeds are earmarked for funding the state’s education system and the rookie governor assumes that gamblers will avoid the lottery if other options such as online poker and gambling are available.
I’m going to have a hard time supporting anything that doesn’t protect the School Aid Fund, Gov. Whitmer stated.
Of course, nobody wants to screw up the education of Michigan school kids. Those children represent the future and the more resources provided to them in getting a top notch education, the better.
However, as is the case with a number of politicians throughout the US, Gov. Whitmer appears to be uneducated with regard to gamblers and where they spend their money. There has been no evidence to support the notion that gamblers will forgo purchasing lottery tickets and instead use those dollars to play online blackjack, roulette and slots.
In fact, Gov. Whitmer fails to realize that Wolverine State residents already log on and play at unregulated gambling sites that are located abroad. Regulation of i-gaming would do the opposite of what Gov. Whitmer assumes and actually bring in revenue to state coffers – including the governor’s beloved School Aid Fund if need be.
The man who’s championing online gambling legalization in Michigan, Rep. Brandt Iden, is hoping that Gov. Whitmer eventually sees the error of her ways and realizes the benefits that i-gaming would provide. Iden said that he’s fully aware that the governor would like to raise revenue without being detrimental to school funding and that
what I’m proposing is a way to help get her there by regulating online casinos.
It Works in New Jersey
One need look no further than New Jersey for a prime example of how the lottery and online gambling can work harmoniously. The Garden State has been extremely successful in pulling in revenue from both its lottery programs and online casino games without one cannibalizing the other. The facts are there and are plain for all to see.
Whether Iden will ever be able to make Gov. Whitmer see the light remains to be seen. He failed in persuading former governor Rick Snyder to come around, the ex-gov leaving a lasting legacy by taking his veto stamp to an online gambling bill right before he left office in December 2018. Snyder had the same concerns that the new governor talked about on Michigan Radio.
In the meantime, Michigan residents continue to visit online casino sites and have absolutely no safeguards in place should those website owners decide to take the money and run. Regulation would solve that possible problem, as well as bring in more dollars for the state, but Gov. Whitmer is blind to that fact.