Online gambling bill still awaits Senate decision

Lawmakers backing the bill, say this will help regulate online gaming, since people are already gambling online, but illegally.

LANSING, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- Despite the state’s current lame-duck status, lawmakers in Michigan are still pushing for several bills to get passed, and one of those would allow casinos to have online gaming.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Brandt Iden, would allow the states three commercial casinos and nearly two dozen tribal casinos to legally provide an outlet for online gambling.

Lawmakers backing the bill said the bill will help regulate online gaming, since people are already gambling online, but illegally.

They also say it will be taxed revenue money that will go into the state’s budget.

However, those working directly with addicts and recovering addicts worry this may not be a good idea.

“The proximity study showed that when you open a new casino, that problems associated with compulsive gambling will double in a 50 mile radius,” said Michael Burke, the president of Michigan Association on Problem Gambling. “Well imagine what happens when we change that 50 mile radius to six inches, because that’s how close and readily available your cell phone will be.”

Burke is no stranger to what he explains as the devastation left by gambling addiction. He is the author of “Never Enough: One Lawyer’s True Story of How He Gambled His Career Away.”

Burke said although he’s fairly confident the bill will pass, he hopes law makers will consider putting some funding toward resources for those suffering with addition. For example, he recommends funding in-patient clinics.

“We ask that the state put aside money to assist problem gamblers who will develop a problem,” Burke said. “We know that this is going to happen to a certain percent of people, maybe a small percent, but a very large number.”

The bill has already passed the house, if the senate majority approves it, it will head to the governor’s desk. It would also allow sports betting.

If it doesn’t pass this legislative session, it would need to be re-introduced.

If you or anyone is suffering with gambling addiction there are services available:

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