Michigan Pushes to Launch iGaming, Sports Betting

The state of Michigan has begun accepting applications from iGaming suppliers, the next step in the process of allowing online gambling and sports betting. The launch might not be doable until 2021, but “we hope it can happen sooner,” said gaming commissioner Richard S. Kalm (l.).

The coronavirus pandemic took a toll on casinos and sports betting. But it also hammered states like Michigan, which expects a shortfall of $3.2 billion in 2020.

The gap could be why the state has gone all-in on sports betting and iGaming.

On May 15, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) began accepting online gaming supplier license forms. Suppliers will process payments, geolocation and other services that regulate online gambling. And the regulatory body said it will permit online and mobile betting on horse racing via Advance Deposit Wagering.

“The MGCB’s Enterprise Licensing and Investigations sections will work cooperatively to review applications and conduct background investigations for online gaming applicants,” MGCB Communications Specialist Mary Kay Bean said in a statement to Sports Handle. “The agency has encouraged suppliers who will support the operators and platform providers to apply as soon as they can so we can prepare to issue provisional licenses.”

Getting all the issues resolved is complicated by the governor’s refusal to allow the use of emergency rules for online gambling, and by the shutdowns caused by the coronavirus. The three casinos in the Motor City will remain closed until at least May 28 by executive order from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who shut down the casinos in mid-March.

The closure led to a 39.2 percent drop in revenue compared to 2019, $15.6 million less in taxes for the state during the first four months of the year, and $23 million less for Detroit.

The iGaming law puts the tribal and commercial casinos on equal footing in the digital realm. And the framework makes entry easier for large gaming companies, with a reasonable tax rate. Most major online gambling companies expect to submit applications, according to Online Poker Report.

State officials hope to have online and mobile betting available before year’s end, but that paints an optimistic picture. More likely, the first bets will take place in early 2021. The timeline relies on creating the regulations, a process started earlier in the year.

“We continue to make progress on rule promulgation for internet gaming and online sports betting. While we expect to launch these forms of betting by early 2021, we hope it can happen sooner,” MGCB Executive Director Richard S. Kalm.

The agency sent draft online gaming rules for sports and casino-style betting to stakeholders for their review and feedback, Bean said in her statement. “We will consider their written feedback and intend to ask them to provide input on any changes in the draft rules based on the feedback we’ve received.”