After four long years of legislative hearings, public education, and good-old-fashioned compromise, the Michigan Senate and House last week passed a series of bills to regulate internet gaming in the state. Earning overwhelming, bipartisan supermajorities in both houses, the bills landed on Governor Rick Snyder’s desk with a clear mandate from the legislature.
What did Snyder do? The Governor ‘dropped the ball in the endzone’, vetoed the bills at the 11th-hour, and then he was less than honest with Michiganders about his reasons for doing so. Par for the course for someone who started with such promise but leaves the office with approval ratings in the 30’s – covered in the stench of the Flint water crisis and sexual abuse scandal at Michigan State.
According to his veto message, Governor Snyder killed regulated internet gaming because the data doesn’t exist to justify it, and he fears that internet gaming will cannibalize the state lottery and existing casinos.
The Governor knows this is nonsense.
Five-plus years of certified state revenue data in New Jersey clearly demonstrates that regulated internet gaming has led to nearly double-digit growth for the existing brick-and-motor gaming industry, while state lottery revenues have continued to rise year after year. This explosive increase has helped to quickly reverse a decade of declining revenue, casino closures, and job losses in Atlantic City.
So, what does this mean for Michiganders? Regulated internet gaming would bring millions of dollars in new revenue to both the State and City of Detroit that could be used to fund education and infrastructure improvements. Considering Michigan has a ten-percent higher population than New Jersey, experts predict at least $26 million in state tax revenue and close to $20 million for Detroit.
Simply, Governor Snyder’s veto is leaving money on the table.
Moreover, regulated internet gaming has strengthened consumer protections, empowered law enforcement and state regulators, and virtually wiped out the illegal black market that was preying on innocent people including minors.
Apparently, these clear and compelling facts aren’t enough for Governor Snyder. He would prefer to bury his head in the sand while more than 300,000 Michiganders are at-risk of both identity and monetary fraud in an unregulated market. Rather than doing what’s right for the state, Snyder took the easy way out by foolishly dismissing this issue (and 40 other bills) in his final days.
None of it should come as a surprise, though. Let’s remember, this is the same Governor who demonstrated an unacceptable level of indifference to his own constituents being poisoned by their drinking water in Flint, and who was nowhere to be found on the Larry Nassar scandal at the state’s flagship public university, Michigan State.
So long, Rick Snyder. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Jerry Rogers is the founder of Capitol Allies, and the co-host of The LangerCast on the RELM Network. Twitter: @CapitolAllies.