Michigan Launch Sports Books Ahead Of March Madness

Michigan’s brick-and-mortar sports betting facilities may become operational ahead of March Madness, a spokesperson for the state regulator said on Tuesday.

March Madness Money

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has no set date for starting live operations regarding in-person sports betting within the three commercial casinos in Detroit, but the regulator is pushing with the efforts to provide people in the state with the opportunity to follow the NCAA tournament by having a vested interest in their favourite teams.

The NCAA basketball tournament, popular among fans as March Madness, is held annually and is scheduled to begin March 17. It is one of the most important sports events in the US betting-wise, with Americans placing wagers to the extent of $8 billion and more, and legislators that pushed the bill to legalize sports betting in the state last year were stressing on the importance of having operations ahead of the tournament, so Michigan can start to cash in.

From the moment State Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the bills to legalize sports betting and online gambling in 2019, the Michigan Gaming Control Board was working to establish the rules for sports book operations and the retail piece of them seems to be at the finish line.

No Online Bets, For Now

Placing wagers in-person from the casinos may become reality in time for the tournament, but since the regulator is still working on setting statewide rules for online sports betting and gambling, bettors would have to wait a little longer until they can wager through their phones or desktops.

The 24 tribal casinos operated by the 12 recognized tribes in the state are independently regulated and do not need permission from the Gaming Control Board to start retail sports betting, and some of them already secured partnership deals with online gaming operators, with the latest between William Hill and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

Before the UK-based William Hill, Australian PointsBet and Canadian-headquartered The Stars Group secured access to the Michigan market, through deals with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, respectively. Tribal casinos would however be subjected to regulation regarding online sports books.

In terms of the online regulatory framework, the board is like 30% ready, as the Michigan Gaming Control Board’s CEO Richard Kalm admits, anticipating that placing bets online can be up and running by early 2021, due to the complexity involved in implementing rules valid for both commercial and tribal venues.

Betting Has Its Social Role, Too

Going live with sports betting would benefit all Michiganders as most of the sports betting tax money generated from the 8.4% on retail and the 20%-28% on online sports books is going towards the School Aid Fund, that finances K-12 schools in Michigan, and $4 million annually is allocated towards compensation for firefighters that contract cancer due to smoke and chemical exposure on their job.

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