Launch Of Online Sportsbooks And Casinos In Michigan Now Appears Unlikely In 2020

Online sportsbooks and casinos probably won't be launching in 2020 in Michigan, officials said. January 2021 is the likely date.
2021 calendar

Michigan residents may have to wait a little longer than originally expected to gain access to online sportsbooks and casinos.

In fact, based on a Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) update, it appears that a 2020 launch may be about as likely as a 12-team parlay hitting.

“The launch date will depend on many things, including how quickly and completely applicants supply the MGCB with outstanding information,” Mary Kay Bean, the spokesperson for the MGCB, told MI Bets in an email. “Operators and platform providers couldn’t fulfill some MGCB requirements until the rules were filed, which happened Wednesday (Dec. 2). We estimate four to six weeks for launch (counting forward from Dec. 2) but will know more as we receive and review the required information.”

So based on this timeline, it would appear that a Dec. 30 launch would be a best-case scenario, with a more likely launch happening in early January.

So you’re saying there’s a chance?

This is not to say all hope is lost for an earlier launch; Bean said early last week the MGCB remained “hopeful” for a 2020 launch. But based on the new timeline, it’s looking a little on the long odds side.

In fact, that’s what Richard Kalm, the director of the MGCB, told

“The whole thing is going to be really dependent on the paperwork they’re submitting,” Kalm said, speaking of the operators. “We’re going to give them provisional licenses as soon as we get all the paperwork and then finish our background investigations, and also the platforms that are required to submit their software and testing labs to make sure they comply with all of our requirements. So that’s gonna take a little bit of time to get that done.

“They’re all gonna have to go through with their fine-tooth comb and make sure they’re in compliance. Otherwise, we can’t license them. With the waive of the rules, I thought we were four weeks out, but we just sent out earlier this week – the same day as the JCAR (meeting) – an inquiry to the platform providers’ operators to give us how ready they are to go and what they’re going to have done. So we might be having to push that back, because we’re now looking at probably six weeks.”

Final hurdle met

Last Monday, the final giant legislative step was taken when the Joint Committee on Legislative Rules (JCAR), a 10-member board consisting of members of the Michigan legislature, waived through the rules concerning online sportsbooks and casinos. Simply put, they put their legislative stamp of approval on the rules for operators the MGCB put forth.

At this point, the MGCB just needs to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed before any sportsbook or casino can go live with their online product.

And plenty of people are waiting patiently for this to happen, as the three Detroit casinos – and a handful of tribal outfits – remain closed at least until Dec. 8 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The tribal casinos are closed by choice, whereas the Detroit casinos are closed due the shutdown order put in place by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which went into effect Nov. 18.

Whitmer has not ruled out extending the shutdown of the casinos and other non-essential businesses. 

It was last December when Whitmer signed a comprehensive gambling bill into law, and this past spring saw the three Detroit casinos and the 24 tribal casinos 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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