Michigan Regulators ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ For 2020 Launch Of Internet Gambling

Written By Matt Schoch on June 10, 2020
michigan online betting

Michigan casino operators will receive the second drafts of internet gambling rules this week. State regulators are “cautiously optimistic” to see online gaming launch in Michigan this year.

Richard Kalm, the executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB), said the board would issue rewrites for online sports betting and online casino rules to the state’s 15 casino operators this week.

Kalm said at the board’s regular meeting on Monday:

“We’re making some changes in the rules and we’re probably going to be issuing those today or tomorrow back out to the stakeholders based on their feedback. That process is moving along on time, actually.”

The board’s stance has been that Michigan internet gambling could launch in early 2021, but Kalm said the board is now more optimistic.

Retail sports betting in Michigan launched on March 11, though online betting is a more involved process. The legislature passed and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed expanded gambling laws in December.

Kalm ‘cautiously optimistic’ for 2020 iGaming launch

Some stakeholders and politicians have publicly expressed the belief that a launch later this year is possible.

Rep. Brandt Iden, the legislative driver of the issue for several years, said last month that even a late summer launch is possible.

For Kalm to address the four board members with such optimism is a step in the right direction.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that we may get these rules yet this year once we get through the legislature and get through some of the hoops we have to get through as a state agency,” Kalm said. “That process is on time, for the most part, and moving along, and we believe that we’re going to do some online gaming hopefully before the first of the year.”

MGCB staff works remotely to hammer out drafts

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed states toward sports and internet gambling implementation; however, it has also complicated matters.

Kalm said the board’s staff members have been working on drafts remotely throughout the state.

The board also issued applications for online gaming suppliers on May 15 and is accepting them.

“We’ll be calling those people all back,” Kalm said. “All hands (are) on deck to get these license applications processed at the appropriate time as soon as we’re able to.”

Kalm has said the rules were modeled largely from those already in place for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Indiana, making it easier for Michigan.

The internet sports betting draft was 76pages long and the internet gaming document was 68 pages.

What’s next for Michigan’s internet gambling process?

The MGCB is in an initial phase of Michigan’s rule-making process. The estimated timeline for this stage is 60 days. The rules were issued to stakeholders for input in late April.

After the second round of feedback, the gaming control board would send the rules to the regulatory affairs for review.

Then, the rules need to clear the administrative rules division and a legislative service bureau. The board would then submit a regulatory impact statement for review by the regulatory affairs.

After a public hearing, the board sends the rules to the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

PlayMichigan reached out to a handful of casino operators, including the 12 tribal casinos and three commercial casinos. None specified any issues they had with the first draft of rules.

Do Michigan operators need to use official league data?

The online sports betting draft provides a workaround from official league data for Tier 2 sports bets, or in-game wagers.

Operators can use any approved data source to grade the bet unless a league such as the NBA steps up to challenge that process, as first reported by Legal Sports Report.

According to the draft, operators only need official league data for in-game wagers if a sports governing body headquartered in the US notifies the board in writing of its desired use.

Otherwise, operators are free to use any approved data source to grade the bet. Operators have 60 days to change over to official league data once they are notified of the request.

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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 former 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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