With the finish line in sight, no surprises or new developments is a welcome sign for Michigan online gambling.
Wednesday’s public hearing for draft rules checked off another box with only two residents speaking up during the three-hour virtual session.
During the session, a Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) official said the latest estimate for the online gambling launch is still around Thanksgiving.
What are next steps for the online gambling process?
With the public hearing complete, the rule-making process will continue.
According to the summary, the Joint Committee of Administrative Rules (JCAR) will next submit final draft rules to the Michigan Office for Administrative Hearings and Rules.
This begins what is usually a 40-day step in the process, followed by a 25-day adoption process.
However, regulators have said legislatures can waive or hasten certain closing steps as the finish line nears.
For instance, a 15-day requirement for rules to be before the JCAR can be skipped with a waiver.
The legislature is also considering a bill that could ultimately allow Michigan online poker players to compete against players from other states.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Curtis Hertel, moved out of the Senate’s Regulatory Reform committee Tuesday and should soon get a vote from the full Senate.
Resident: Bureaucratic delay ‘frustrating’ for residents
As many as 75 people were on the call, and the two residents who spoke did not take issue with the draft rules at hand.
Andrew Bernal of Clinton Township bemoaned how long sports betting was taking to launch, placing some blame on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Bernal suggested the governor should enact emergency rules to expedite the launch. Whitmer has resisted, and it’s unclear if it would speed up the process.
Bernal said he recently traveled to Indiana and placed sports bets there, though he’s unable to do it inside Michigan state lines.
“It makes no sense to me that this hasn’t been streamlined and fast-tracked,” Bernal said. “I don’t understand why this isn’t a bigger priority or why this hasn’t been sped up, especially since we’re in a pandemic right now.
“A lot of this is an example of people being frustrated by government bureaucracy. I think it’s a great example of it. You’ve been sitting on this bill for nine months, and we still don’t have internet sports betting.
“It’s just frustrating to me as a resident of Michigan. I’m sure it’s frustrating to a lot of other people, and I know it’s a bipartisan issue.”
Murley: Late November launch is still the hope
David Murley, the MGCB deputy director who hosted the meeting, offered to have a later dialogue with Bernal to address his concerns.
Meanwhile, resident Marko Tomich asked about the first platforms that will be available for online poker and the estimated launch.
Murley said online gambling could launch in late November, and final draft rules should be to the legislature next month.
As far as what platforms are available first, that will depend on licensing and priorities of operators.
“A lot of that is going to depend on what the operators and platform providers want,” Murley said. “And how quickly the licensing application materials are turned in, reviewed and approved.”
The rules were put together by MGCB staff using pieces from other states, including Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Robust MI online gambling marketed expected
A mature Michigan online gambling market should rival any live one throughout the country.
The state’s newest official projections show Michigan can expect $25 million in tax revenue.
But the legislation’s driver, Rep. Brandt Iden, told PlayMichigan this month that he sees nine-figure potential down the line for the state.
Michigan is taxing sports betting operators at 8.4%. The state is taxing online casinos with a tiered structure that starts at 20%.
There are 15 casino operators. Each can partner with a sports betting brand, as well as one online casino and poker brand apiece.
Many of the industry’s biggest brands have partnerships with Michigan operators. They are now bracing for a market share fight.