Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is not a fan of the state’s legislative effort to legalize online gaming. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer needs some convincing on online gaming, fearing that a future market would damage online lottery sales, although evidence from New Jersey suggests this would not be the case.
Whitmer is at loggerheads with the bill’s sponsor, State Representative Brandt Iden, because she feels that a future online gaming market would cannibalize the state’s online and retail lottery revenues, draining money from school programs.
Whitmer said: “I’ve said very clearly, over and over again, that protecting the School Aid Fund, ensuring that we get every dollar back into the education of our kids is my top priority, so I’m going to have a hard time supporting anything that doesn’t protect that goal.”
Iden counters the argument that online gaming would impact lottery sales has not been borne out in other jurisdictions that have opted to legalize and regulate. That’s largely because people are playing online already, on the black market, and regulation would channel some of that money back to the state while ensuring customers are protected.
New Jersey is the only state with both online gaming and online lottery markets that have reached a level of maturity — as well as having a comparable population to Michigan. It reported record lottery sales last year of $3.3 billion (€2.9B). Meanwhile, its online casino market — launched late 2013 — is also at an all-time high.
The legislature is willing, the governor is not. And because Michigan is one of the few states with a yearlong legislative calendar, Iden still has six months to change Whitmer’s mind.