LANSING — The push to legalize Internet gambling has states betting on potential tax revenue, but a bill in Lansing would go about it in a curious way — allowing it only within casino walls.
That’s a quirk of Michigan’s constitutional amendment that requires most gambling expansions to go before voters, and some analysts say the proposal on the table could drastically limit the potential payoff to the state and siphon tax dollars away from the city of Detroit.
Backers of a plan to allow gamblers at Detroit’s three commercial casinos and casinos owned by Native American tribes to legally play online poker and card games within casino walls say Michigan could net millions of dollars in new tax revenue. Today, companies that run gambling websites are unregulated in Michigan and pay no state or city taxes.
The legislation pending in the Senate would make Michigan the fourth state to legalize some form of Internet gambling, after New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware, with more states considering following suit. Unlike the other three states, which allow people to legally play online games from their couch, Michigan would be the only one that requires players to visit a casino.