So Close: Michigan Online Gambling Rules Inch Toward The Finish Line

Posted on October 13, 2020 - Last Updated on October 14, 2020

With the launch of online gambling set for as early as next month, time is precious in Michigan.

A day cut from the legislative process here and a postponed meeting there could make tons of difference for Michigan online sports betting and online casinos.

November, December, or even early 2021 are still on the table for launch dates. So here’s a look at a few recent developments that could make a difference one way or another.

Rules submitted to the state legislature last week

The Michigan Gaming Control Board submitted the final online gambling rules to Lansing on Thursday.

The Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting documents went through a public review process over the past several weeks and now are in the hands of the Joint Committee of Administrative Rules.

The rules must be before the committee for 15 session days, though a waiver could move them along a bit faster.

Lawmakers have said this year that bypassing some of these days is one potential way of hastening the process.

The rules are then filed with the Office of the Great Seal.

MGCB Executive Director Richard Kalm would then file a Certificate of Adoption, detailing immediate enaction or a date the rules become effective.

Quiet public hearing but plenty of written comments

Two Michigan residents spoke up at a Sept. 23 virtual public hearing about the rules. Neither addressed their contents specifically.

Behind the scenes, though, lawyers were working hard pouring over the legalese.

Representatives from several well-known brands and Michigan tribes submitted comments in writing including:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • Penn Interactive
  • PointsBet
  • William Hill
  • Pokagon Gaming Authority
  • Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi

In all, stakeholders submitted more than 100 comments for the internet gaming and internet sports betting rules.

The MGCB released a list of 18 planned revisions, including language that appears to loosen the official league data requirements for leagues or their designated data provider.

Licensing and approvals in the works

Concurrently, the MGCB is performing the task of vetting applicants. It appears licensing could be the final hurdle for launch.

The board keeps a list of internet gaming and sports betting applicants and an active licensee/vendor registration list on its website.

Provisional licenses have already been granted to various online casino game suppliers and sports data companies:

  • Ainsworth Game Technology Limited
  • Don Best Sports Corporation
  • IGT
  • Konami Gaming, Inc.
  • Spin Games LLC
  • Sportsradar Solutions LLC

Tuesday MGCB meeting pushed back to November

That being said, the MGCB pushed its planned Oct. 13 meeting to Nov. 10.

Mary Kay Bean, a spokesperson for the board, told PlayMichigan there were not enough licensing items to justify hosting the meeting.

“The agency expects to have more licensing agenda items ready for the Board to consider in November than it could have presented (Tuesday),” she wrote in an email.

Michigan online gambling: What will it look like at launch?

To launch, at least one operator tied to a Detroit casino has to be licensed, as well as one partnered with one of Michigan’s 12 federally recognized Native American tribes.

DraftKings is tied to Bay Mills Indian Community and has been quick to launch sports betting in other states. FanDuel and BetMGM, both partnered with Detroit casinos, also have been among the earliest online in other states.

Eventually, 15 sports betting and 15 iGaming brands could launch — one skin of each for the 15 Michigan casino operators.

Michigan online poker should launch later, perhaps in 2021.

Photo by Dreamstime stock
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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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