Live Updates As Michigan Online Casino And Sports Betting Launch Nears

Posted on October 28, 2020 - Last Updated on November 24, 2020

When will Michigan online gambling officially launch?

It is a question that has plagued the state since December 2019 when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed both pieces of legislation into law, making online casinos, online poker, and online sports betting legal in the Great Lakes State.

The current projection for launch is around mid-December or even Christmas. We might have more information when the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives next convene, scheduled for Dec. 1.

However, due to the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown, almost everyone is committed to an online gambling debut in 2020. It could also trickle to 2021 though.

News happens fast, so as information develops via Twitter or other outlets, we will be updating this article.

The updates are time-stamped based on when we find them, not when they were first posted. Here is what we know right now about the launch of legal online gambling in Michigan.

Michigan online casinos and sports betting launch updates

Nov. 23 Updates

3 p.m. — 3 more companies licensed for online gambling

The Michigan Gaming Control Board licensed three more companies for the launch of online gambling.

AGS LLC was licensed for internet gaming, while GeoComply Solutions, Inc., and Incredible Technologies, Inc., were licensed for internet gaming and internet sports betting.

AGS and Incredible Technologies have not announced operators they will serve as suppliers for in Michigan. Incredible Technologies is the maker of Golden Tee Golf.

GeoComply will set up geolocation compliance in the state, ensuring that Michigan’s online gambling happens inside state lines.

10 a.m. — Next Michigan congressional sessions on Dec. 1

The wait continues this week for online gambling rules to move along through the Michigan Legislature.

It’s a holiday week, so don’t expect too many new developments.

The next scheduled Senate session is at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1. The full House of Representatives is scheduled to meet at 1:30 p.m. that day.

There are currently no scheduled meetings for the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, which need to move along the rules with a waiver to bypass the maximum of 15 session days the rules can be before the committee. However, it’s worth noting that JCAR can technically meet without the chambers being in full session, though that’s not expected this week.

After that, the Michigan Gaming Control Board needs to complete the licensing process before launch. Launch will not happen until at least one operator linked to a tribal casino and another linked to a commercial casino are licensed.

Nov. 18 Updates

11:30 a.m. — High 5 Games newest provisional licensee

This week, High 5 Games became the 11th company to receive a provisional license from the Michigan Gaming Control Board for online gambling.

High 5 Games, an online casino content provider, recently announced a content licensing agreement with GAN. The agreement would allow Michigan players to gain access to more than 150 High 5 Games titles, including:

  • Double Da Vinci Diamonds
  • Triple Double Da Vinci Diamonds
  • Secrets of the Forest

GAN is partnered with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and Wynn Interactive for Michigan access. GAN also has an agreement with BetAmerica, which is partnered with the Hannahville Indian Community.

Other Michigan licensees include:

  • Ainsworth Game Technology Limited
  • Continent 8 LLC
  • Don Best Sports Corporation
  • Everi Interactive LLC
  • IGT
  • Konami Gaming Inc.
  • NetEnt Americas LLC
  • Spin Games LLC
  • Sportradar Solutions LLC
  • White Hat Gaming Inc.

Nov. 16 Updates

10:30 a.m. — MGCB focusing on December launch for online gambling

The Michigan Gaming Control Board is focusing on December for a launch of online gambling, its spokesperson confirmed to PlayMichigan.

Mary Kay Bean said in an email that a December launch hinges on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules acting on the rules, along with timely submission of required information from operators, platform providers, suppliers and vendors.

“At this stage, launch depends primarily on the actions of others: operators, platform providers, suppliers, vendors and JCAR,” Bean wrote.

This week, the MGCB plans to send a pre-launch checklist to operators and platform providers. The checklist will cover:

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

The rules were submitted to JCAR on Oct. 6. The committee has a maximum of 15 session days to act. There is a legislative session scheduled for Wednesday, though that could be canceled.

Rep. Kyra Bolden, a Democrat on the JCAR, indicated on Twitter on Sunday that plans to move the rules forward hinge on actions from committee chair Sen. Pete Lucido, a Republican.

PlayMichigan reached out last week to Lucido, who was elected this month as Macomb County prosecutor for next year, and has not yet heard back.

Nov. 13 Updates

1:45 p.m. — Michigan House, Senate schedule Wednesday sessions

Maybe don’t quite give up completely on that late November launch for Michigan online gambling?

Sure, it’s still a pipe dream, but there is a little hope.

After cancelling its session on Thursday, the Michigan House of Representatives has scheduled a 10 a.m. full session for Wednesday in Lansing. The Michigan Senate had previously also scheduled a session for that day.

This is the last scheduled session for the Michigan Legislature in November, though more dates could be added.

This is significant because that allows the chance for the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to convene for a session to advance Michigan’s online gambling rules. The internet gaming and internet sports betting rules are with JCAR, which has a maximum of 15 session days to hold hearings, send them back to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, or otherwise act on them.

Richard Kalm, the MGCB executive director, said at Tuesday’s meeting that he expects the JCAR to waive the days.

After the rules move through, the MGCB can begin licensing online gambling operators.

No committee scheduled has yet been posted for the House. The House Regulatory Reform committee could act on an interstate poker bill that has passed the Senate. The bill would allow Michigan to enter into compacts to allow for interstate online poker play.

Nov. 12 Updates

Noon — Canceled congressional sessions likely means no November launch

The Michigan House of Representatives canceled many of Thursday’s scheduled sessions, likely ending any hopes of a November launch of online gambling.

There are no more scheduled House sessions until Dec. 1, though others can be added. The Senate is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and the House could follow suit.

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules can technically still convene outside of full congressional sessions too, but that appears unlikely. JCAR moving online gambling rules forward or sending them back to the Michigan Gaming Control Board is the next domino that needs to fall for launch.

Several reporters covering Michigan politics, including Chad Livengood of Crain’s Detroit Business and Zach Gorchow of Gongwer Michigan, have reported speculation the cancellation is because of Michigan representatives quarantining after possible COVID-19 exposure.

Thursday’s cancellations included a scheduled Regulatory Reform committee meeting that was going to consider an interstate poker bill. The bill, introduced by Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., would allow Michigan to enter compacts with other states for online poker across state lines.

The bill, which passed through the Senate, is now with the House. With no imminent launch of online gambling, there is less urgency to get the bill passed as soon as possible.

Nov. 10 Updates

11 a.m. — MGCB executive director says online gambling waiting on JCAR, 2021 possible

While the Detroit Lions are at midseason, the online gambling launch in Michigan is somewhere closer to the end zone.

But when will officials get to the launch’s goal line? And will it come in time to bet on some (or any) of the home team’s NFL season?

Tuesday morning’s Michigan Gaming Control Board regular virtual meeting came and went without much clarity.

Richard Kalm, the executive director of the MGCB, said Tuesday the board is waiting on the Michigan Legislature for the next step toward online gambling launch. The rules are in front of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, awaiting approval.

“We have not heard back on whether that’s going occur or not,” Kalm said, adding most of the platform provider license cannot be issued until the rules go into effect.

Two meeting attendees asked questions for the board during the public comment period about a possible launch date.

Let’s let Kalm’s full response to these crucial questions speak for itself:

“The expected launch date for this really is completely determined by when JCAR finalizes the rules. We would be ready to go, and obviously we have to wait for the suppliers and the platform providers to be ready to go, but I think everybody is getting ready, very closely.

“We initially thought it would be the end of November, but if the rules aren’t waived to get us going by the end of November, at least allow the platform providers to go live, then we’re going to have to wait.

“Now I was just informed while this was going on … we were counting session days, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to get 15 session days in if we just let this run out to the end of the year. So conceivably, it would have to roll over until the next session in January and we would start another 15-day clock.

“So hopefully there’s an appetite for a waiver and we can get this thing up and going. So that’s a very long answer because there is no definitive date until the rules are approved by the legislature.

“I think we’re making some in-roads. Some of the legislatures that were involved in passing this bill are very excited to see it get going. They’re having discussions about it. So as horse trading goes on in the legislature, we’re just optimistic that there will be a waiver and we can get going.”

The board submitted internet gaming and internet sports betting rules to the JCAR on Oct. 6. The committee needs to act on the rules within 15 session days or send them back to the MGCB.

On Oct. 26, the board officially requested JCAR waive the 15 session days and move the process along.

Though the Michigan Legislature has been in session since then, JCAR has not yet acted. Fifteen session days after Oct. 6 takes the calendar to the week of Dec. 7. However, MGCB spokesperson Mary Kay Bean told PlayMichigan that the session calendar could change.

She repeated Kalm’s belief the Legislature will ultimately waive the required 15 session days.

The legislature is in session on Tuesday and Thursday of this week. Following this week, the bodies will be off for the next two weeks.

Gaming Laboratories Inc. and a representative on behalf of GeoComply gave presentations to the MGCB on Tuesday about the independent testing lab and geofencing processes, respectively.

Nov. 9 Updates

9:30 a.m. — MGCB meeting Tuesday could provide more launch clarity

The Michigan Gaming Control Board is holding its regular meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday and there could be more clarity about the launch of online gambling then.

Nothing about online gambling is on the board’s agenda. However, executive director Richard Kalm has briefed the MGCB with updates about mobile sports betting, online casino and online poker launch during past meetings, usually in his executive director’s report.

Board spokesperson Mary Kay Bean also said last week that the board expects demonstrations on geofencing and from an independent testing lab at the meeting.

Nov. 4 Updates

5 p.m. — MGCB: ‘Late fall’ estimate still accurate until JCAR’s next move

The Michigan Gaming Control Board is waiting for the legislature for its next move before the online gambling launch becomes any more clear.

A spokesperson told PlayMichigan on Wednesday that the board’s “late fall” estimate is still the most accurate for the launch of online sports betting and online casinos — for now.

The MGCB requested the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules waive the 15 permitted session days to have the online gambling rules in front of it.

The board made the request on Oct. 26. For reference, fall officially ends when winter starts on Dec. 21.

“The rules must be final before the agency can license operators and platform providers,” Mary Kay Bean wrote in an email.

Rep. Brandt Iden, who spearheaded the legislative process, told PlayMichigan last week that no movement was expected until after Election Day.

The state legislature was back in session on Wednesday and has another session day coming Thursday. According to the JCAR website, the next session was TBA.

The MGCB has a regular meeting coming on Tuesday morning. Nothing official about online gambling is on the agenda, though Bean said companies will demonstrate geofencing and independent testing during Tuesday’s meeting.

12:45 p.m. — Evolution also signs with FanDuel, Wynn for live casino in Michigan

Evolution Gaming has added two more Michigan online casino operators to its list of partners.

FanDuel and Wynn are the latest operators to ink with the live casino supplier, joining PointsBet, BetMGM and William Hill.

Evolution’s live dealer games simulate the experience of sitting in a live casino, though you don’t have to physically be at one to play.

Evolution Gaming did submit a supplier license with the Michigan Gaming Control Board but has not yet been approved. The initial launch of online casinos in Michigan should come sometime before Christmas, perhaps around the Nov. 26 Thanksgiving holiday.

Nov. 3 Updates

4 p.m. — MGCB requests state congressional committee waive rules delay

The Michigan Gaming Control Board sent over a request last week that the state’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules speed up the rulemaking process.

The board submitted internet gaming and internet sports betting rules to the committee on Oct. 8. The bipartisan committee has up to 15 session days to act on the rules, though it could waive those days and move the process along.

Mary Kay Bean, spokesperson for the MGCB, said the request was sent in on Oct. 26. Earlier that day, MGCB Executive Director Richard Kalm indicated the board would send the request soon.

The JCAR process is one of the final legislative hurdles, though the MGCB also has to license operators before launch.

1:30 p.m. — Public hearing Nov. 25 for horse racing rules

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has set a public hearing to discuss new general horse racing rules for Nov. 25.

There are several changes in the 143 pages of proposed rules, including an all new section on account wagering to deal with new advanced deposit wagering. ADW for horse racing was added to Michigan’s gambling menu in December 2019 when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed expanded gambling laws.

TVG and TwinSpires have already signed conditional temporary licenses for online wagering with Northville Downs, the state’s lone horse racing operator.

Oct. 29 Updates

11 a.m. — Two more provisional licenses issued for suppliers

Two more companies were granted provisional licenses this week by the Michigan Gaming Control Board for online gambling operations.

NetEnt Americas LLC of Hoboken, N.J., and Continent 8 LLC in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., were approved.

NetEnt is a gaming provider for online casinos, while networking company Continent 8 is licensed for internet gaming and sports betting.

Other licensed companies include:

  • Ainsworth Game Technology Limited
  • Don Best Sports Corporation
  • IGT
  • Konami Gaming Inc.
  • Spin Games LLC
  • Sportradar Solutions LLC
  • White Hat Gaming Inc.

Oct. 28 Updates

4 p.m. — PointsBet expected to launch sports betting, online casino in 2021

If Michigan online gambling does indeed launch in 2020, at least one operator does not plan to be on the starting block.

PointsBet detailed in an earnings presentation this week that it expects to launch online sports betting and iGaming here in the first quarter of 2021.

PointsBet’s online casino launch in Michigan will be the company’s first for that platform.

PointsBet is partnered for access with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, operators of Northern Waters Casino Resort in Watersmeet near the Wisconsin border.

The Australian company partnered with the Detroit Tigers this summer, the first partnership with any Major League Baseball team or any team in Michigan.

CEO Sam Swanell said Michigan could launch in January anyways, putting PointsBet right at the starting line.

He said the company will be moving toward prioritizing being on the starting line of states more beginning in spring 2021.

9:45 a.m. — Michigan Gaming Control Board requests JCAR waive session days

The Michigan Gaming Control Board will request a legislative committee move the rulemaking process along this week.

Richard Kalm, executive director of the MGCB, addressed the board at Monday’s special meeting to update the process.

He said the board will request the state’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules waive the required 15 session days before taking action on the internet gaming and internet sports betting rules, which are before the committee.

No action is expected before next week’s elections, according to Brandt Iden, a Republican representative who spearheaded the legislative efforts.

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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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