PlayUSA Rewind: Multistate Poker Bill On Its Way To Michigan Governor

Posted By Nicholaus Garcia on December 29, 2020

We have finally arrived at the last rewind of 2020.

The year has brought a multitude of gambling-related stories (and there will be plenty to look forward to in 2021.) For our final three, multistate poker clears a major hurdle in Michigan, Hawaii could be getting its first casino, and Tenessee mobile wagering debuts big.

On the rewind:

Multistate poker bill heads to Michigan governor

Our top story has to do with Michigan. No, not the state’s efforts to launch online sports betting and iGaming before year’s end. For that, residents will have to wait till mid-January.

Instead, this story deals with a bill that would allow Michigan residents to play MI online poker against challengers in other states.

The bill, SB991, passed through the House 85-16 and through the Senate 36-1 with ease. Many consider it a “cleanup” to the 2019 law which legalized online casinos.

While not boring you with legal jargon, a specific passage in the bill reads:

The board may enter into agreements with other jurisdictions, including Indian tribes, to facilitate, administer, and regulate multijurisdictional internet gaming for poker by internet gaming operators to the extent that entering into the agreement is consistent with state and federal laws and if the internet gaming under the agreement is conducted only in the United States.

Now to be completely transparent, the language only allows for multistate poker to happen should Michigan enter into some type of interstate compact. It’s not a “flip of the switch” kind of bill.

The takeaway: Many believe the online gaming market in Michigan to be huge. The addition of multistate poker could be a game-changer. Don’t expect online poker anytime soon though, there are still many things to iron out. (But it is coming!)

Talks of Hawaii casino emerge

A proposal to build a casino in the community of Kapolei, Hawaii, located on the island of O’ahu, was approved in a 5-4 vote by the Hawaiian Homes Commission.

Now, before you start booking that long-awaited Hawaiian vacation, this is simply a “proposal,” meaning several rounds of discussions still need to occur. Casinos do not magically appear overnight, especially in a state where all forms of gambling are illegal.

With that being said, you would think a major tourist destination like Hawaii would have at least one casino resort already.

However, there is one city on the mainland that might hope these plans stay ideas — Las Vegas.

According to KITV-4, Las Vegas attracts thousands of visitors from Hawaii a year but due to COVID-19 restrictions, those numbers have significantly decreased this year.

The takeaway: This is a major step for Hawaii, a picturesque destination that could benefit from a major casino resort. Or, should they take a much easier route, perhaps a bill could emerge that lets casino operators invest in existing resorts and outfit them with gambling. Only time will tell. Either way is a longshot at this point.

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Tenessee sports betting starts strong

And with only four operators, Tennessee mobile sports betting is off to a massive head start.

In November, the Volunteer State collected a record-setting $131.4 million in handle — the most of any state in its first month of operations, ever.

The four operators, FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Action 24/7, combined for $13.2 million in sports betting revenue which equates to a 10% hold.

On the state side of things, these numbers translate to $2.4 million in state taxes.

That’s the good stuff. The bad stuff is, we don’t exactly know who were the top performers. Unfortunately, the information provided by the Tennessee Education Lottery only gives handle, payouts, and taxes but no specific breakdowns.

The takeaway: This is excellent news for a state like Virginia, which plans to debut mobile wagering first before brick-and-mortar locations are up and running. Experts were a bit confused by Tennessee’s approach to sports betting at the start but in a world where smartphones are in the hands of almost every US citizen, mobile sports betting became the logical choice. And so far, it has not disappointed. Of course, this is only month one, but the bar has been set pretty high.

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Nicholaus Garcia Avatar
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick has had stints in Chicago and Washington, D.C., writing about politics, financial markets, and sports betting. He graduated from Texas Tech University and completed his master's degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago.

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