Michigan Zeroing In On iGaming, Sports Betting Launch Date

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Michigan Rep. Brandt Iden may have been hoping to be thankful for sports betting at Thanksgiving, but it’s looking more like two years after his Christmas nightmare, this year he may be able to realize his Christmas dream … or at the least, be able to place a Super Bowl bet from his phone.

Michigan’s iGaming rules were sent to the state’s legislative Joint Committee on Administrative Rules earlier this month, and given the time frame for review in that committee, it appears digital sports betting could launch as early as the second half of December. The rules were sent to JCAR on Oct. 8 and the clock for how long it can hold them began Oct. 13. The committee must hold the rules for 15 days or waive that requirement. To date, there has been no waiver. It appears that the 15th session day would be on or about Dec. 15.

If JCAR doesn’t take any action, the Michigan Gaming Control Board would complete a certificate of adoption and then file with the Office of the Great Seal after Dec. 15. The next step includes issuing licenses, and once that’s done — though it could take a few weeks — operators and the gaming board can begin the launch process.

Retail launch marred by COVID-19

In 2018, Iden, the architect of Michigan’s iGaming law, had a rough December after shepherding legislation all the way to then-Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk only to have Snyder veto the package of bills on Dec. 28. Though frustrated, Iden reintroduced iGaming in 2019, and under new Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan became the only state in 2019 to legalize both iGaming and sports betting in effectively the same law.

Retail sports betting went live at the MGM Grand and Greektown casinos on March 11 — just days before professional sports shut down in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. Those casinos plus MotorCity Casino (which launched on March 12), along with some tribal casinos, have been offering on-site sports betting since pro sports started coming back in July.

But as has been proven over and over again in both New Jersey and now Colorado, digital sports betting is where the money is at, and Michigan regulators have been aiming to launch operators before the end of 2020.

The MGCB will allow operators with full and provisional licenses to launch mobile sports betting. Among those already licensed are Barstool (Greektown), BetAmerica (Hannahville Indian Community), BetMGM (MGM Grand), DraftKings (Bay Mills Indian Community), FanDuel (MotorCity), FoxBet (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians), PointsBet (Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians), and Wynn Sportsbook (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians).

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Jill R. Dorson

Jill has covered everything from steeplechase to the NFL and then some during a more than 30-year career in sports journalism. The highlight of her career was covering Oakland Raiders during the Charles Woodson/Jon Gruden era, including the infamous “Snow Bowl” and the Raiders’ 2003 trip to Super Bowl XXXVII. Her specialty these days is covering sports betting legislation across the country.

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