Michigan One Step Closer to Legal Online Sports Betting

Michigan is set to rival the largest legal sports betting markets in the country once it matures, and generate millions in tax revenue, and it’s all a step closer to reality after a September 23 public hearing for comments on the draft online sports betting regulations published earlier back in August.

It comes on the back of land-based casino and sportsbooks reopening and beset by a difficult business environment and grappling with the reality of customers not wanting to take the public health risks involved to go through the doors.

How Michigan got here

Michigan began its bricks-and-mortar sports betting industry back in the spring, opening the state’s land-based sportsbooks on March 11, unfortunately just a few days before Governor Gretchen Whitmer shut down the state’s gaming market in response to the global health pandemic.

Now that retail sportsbook operations have reopened at 15 percent capacity and revenues are still struggling, Michigan’s state regulators are now expressing an interest to bring forward the timeline for the launch of its online and mobile sports wagering industry.

“We continue to make progress on rule promulgation for internet gaming and online sports betting,” Richard Kalm, the Executive Director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) said back on May 15 when the agency began accepting gaming supplier license forms. “While we expect to launch these forms of betting by early 2021, we hope it can happen sooner.” He said at the time.

After the September 23 public hearing, the draft rules have become final regulations, and will now undergo a review process by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules before Michigan can go ahead with the adoption of the rules and prepare for a legal online sports betting launch, in addition to online casino games.

According to the sports betting regulation process summary initially released in late January 2020, the final steps to the launch of online sportsbooks in Michigan could take as long as up to 80 days from the September 23 hearing date. It all adds up to a potential launch of online sportsbooks and casinos in Michigan by mid-December just in time for the Holiday Season and the NFL playoffs.

It’s a schedule that fits with the MGCB’s initial projections that legal online sports betting should be available by late 2020 or early 2021.

Michigan’s online sportsbooks to open just in time

Michigan’s three commercial casinos in Detroit reported gross gambling revenue of just $487 million from April through July during the global pandemic shutdown.

Contrast that with the $668.7 million of betting handle generated by New Jersey online sportsbooks in August alone and you can see why Michigan’s gaming regulators can’t afford to fall asleep at the wheel in getting the online sports betting industry up-and-running in the Wolverine State.

Clearly, that is why Richard Kalm says that he wishes to permit online sports betting sites to launch their sportsbooks ASAP;

“We all know that the online portion is going to benefit not only the state and tax revenue, but the tribes took a real hit, too. They got beat up really bad when they closed their casino, and same for the city of Detroit. So everybody wants to get those done sooner than later. There’s been a real spirit of cooperation to move these things through the process.”

In addition to the rulemaking procedures, the MGCB is steadily working towards the approval of license applications for online sportsbook suppliers and operators. Kalm went on the record by saying that the state of Michigan had already accepted applications from 11 suppliers, 15 vendors, and eight vendors. However, there’s no word yet on which sports betting operators appear set to launch in the Michigan market.

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