Michigan Online Casino And Sports Betting Launch Could Take Place In 2020

Written By Matt Schoch on November 30, 2020 - Last Updated on January 27, 2021

Though the Michigan Legislature is expected to take the next steps toward online gambling launch on Tuesday, no start date has yet been set.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board “remains hopeful” that Michigan online casino and Michigan online sports betting can start this year, according to spokesperson Mary Kay Bean, in an email Monday to PlayMichigan.

“The MGCB expects to get a clearer picture of when launch will occur as more of the required materials are submitted during December,” Bean wrote.

The licensing process could take another couple weeks after the rules are moved out of their committee. The MGCB has a regular meeting on Dec. 8.

Michigan residents could have an online gambling launch about one year to the day that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed expanded gambling laws on Dec. 20, 2019. The laws included the legalization of online sports betting, online casino and online poker. Online poker should launch sometime in 2021.

JCAR expected to move online gambling rules along Tuesday

The legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules is expected to approve a waiver request to move along the internet sports betting and internet gaming rules on Tuesday. Committee chairman Pete Lucido, a Republican state senator, confirmed the plans to The Associated Press.

That’s an important step for the process, but not the only one.

Bean stressed that launch also depends on operators and all their suppliers and vendors being licensed. The board also must receive letters from an independent testing lab that the platform and games meet all technical requirements, she wrote.

JCAR, a bipartisan committee made up of 10 senators and representatives, is meeting at 8 a.m. in Lansing. The MGCB submitted rules to JCAR on Oct. 8.

MGCB submitted pre-launch checklist to operators

Bean wrote that the MGCB staff is reviewing pre-launch checklists from the operators and platform providers to assess licensing eligibility.

The MGCB sent checklists to operators and platform providers this month, covering:

  • Licensing
  • Internal Control Standards
  • Platform and game review approval
  • Branding
  • Occupational Licensing

Next steps before online gambling launch

The MGCB will submit the rules to the Office of the Great Seal after JCAR moves them along.

MGCB Executive Director Richard Kalm will submit them to to the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules.

Only then can some aspects of licensing occur, Bean wrote.

At least one operator partnered with a Michigan tribal casino and at least one linked with a commercial casino must be licensed prior to launch. BetMGM, Barstool, DraftKings and FanDuel are among the sports betting operators that have indicated they hope to be ready at or near launch.

DraftKings and FanDuel are both offering pre-launch bonuses to new Michigan customers. DraftKings has a deal for $200 in online gambling credits; FanDuel has one for $100.

The process could take a couple of weeks, or possibly leak into early 2021.

But at least this week, there’s more forward momentum in the Great Lakes State.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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