Online Sportsbooks About To Clear Final Legislative Hurdle In Michigan

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After nearly a year of fits and starts, it appears it’s all systems go for online sports betting and online casino games in Michigan.

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) is expected to “waive” through the rules and regulations concerning online wagering and gaming during a scheduled meeting this Tuesday.

“Everybody wants to get this thing going,” JCAR’s chairman, state Sen. Peter Lucido, told The Associated Press. “This is something that’s long overdue at this point. It’s being done in other states. We’re losing opportunity costs.”

Another state legislator, Rep. Brandt Iden, who was instrumental in getting the sports betting bills passed, is delighted JCAR has decided to waive the rules through.

“It’s an exciting time for Michigan, and I am confident that other states will note our tremendous success and move forward with their own legislation in 2021,” Iden said.

Not at the finish line yet

Once JCAR passes the rules, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) steps in and begins the process of launch. And while the hard part is over, there are still plenty of dots and crosses to be made before Michiganders will be able to place bets online.

“If JCAR waives the 15-day rule review requirement on Tuesday, the MGCB remains hopeful that online gaming and sports betting can start this year,” said Mary Kay Bean, the spokesperson for the MGCB.

“Launch also depends on when the operators are eligible for licensing and all of their partners (suppliers and vendors) are fully licensed or registered. The MGCB also must receive approval letters from an independent test lab that the platform and various games meet all technical requirements. Our staff is reviewing pre-launch checklists from the operators and platform providers to assess licensing eligibility. No one will be eligible for licensing or launch when the rules are filed. Some aspects of licensing can’t occur until after the rules are filed. The MGCB expects to get a clearer picture of when launch will occur as more of the required materials are submitted during December.”

Translation? It’s going to be a few weeks, at least, before online wagering and casino gaming is kosher.

But once JCAR waives the rules Tuesday, the legislative part is over. It’s now just a matter of getting things ready for launch.

Long road to here

It was last December when Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a comprehensive gambling bill into law, and this past spring saw the three Detroit casinos and the 24 tribal casinos be able to take sports bets in person.

As for the online process, the MGCB crafted all the regulations, and JCAR received the online rules and regs on Oct. 8. MGCB officially requested a waiver on Oct. 26. 

There is no word on which casinos – and their online partners – will be first to market. There are 15 expected entries into what will quickly become a crowded field.

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