Michigan Senator Announces Possible Online Casino Launch in December

Michigan casinos might soon be able to launch their sports betting and iGaming offerings, pending lawmakers’ potential approval on December 1.

Michigan’s Legislative Process Coming to an End

With a possible final vote this Tuesday, Michigan lawmakers are expected to approve a new bill allowing state casinos to launch sports betting and online gambling operations, Republican Senator Pete Lucido said on Monday. The new regulations could launch this month, nearly a year after Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature signed Michigan’s iGaming and sports betting bill in December 2019.

The first legal online casinos will likely emerge in 2021 if the waiver request of the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) for their remaining review time is not approved soon by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

As sports betting in person at retail casinos became possible at the beginning of last spring, online sports betting, poker, and other games will have to wait until Michigan’s 24 tribe-owned casinos, Detroit’s three commercial casinos, and gaming suppliers, such as FanDuel and Barstool, receive their licenses. The MGCB has already started testing and licensing for third-party gaming providers while waiting for the JCAR’s decision.

FanDuel, BetMGM and DraftKings to Launch as Soon as Possible

According to the chair of the JCAR, Senator Pete Lucido, legislators will validate the waiver today. The MGCB will then begin to issue licenses and will set a launch date, effectively allowing casinos to unveil their iGaming platforms. Mr. Lucido said he feels this might come before the end of the year.

“Everybody wants to get this thing going. This is something that’s long overdue at this point.”

Senator Pete Lucido, chair of the JCAR

Over a dozen casino operators, including FanDuel, BetMGM, DraftKings, Hollywood, Barstool, and BetRivers, could potentially request licenses but it is doubtful the MGCB will be able to issue more than a few before the end of 2020. However, in order for all operators to have a fair chance, the regulator could push the launch date to 2021.

Golden Nugget and PointsBet both said in their public communications this year that they planned for an “early 2021” launch.

Legislation Slowed Down by Various Delays

Although a second shutdown of gaming properties this fall was a possibility, attempts to speed up the legislative process of Michigan’s online casino began in the summer. A bill temporarily allowing gambling operators to launch operations without licensing during the pandemic will be discussed in a hearing on Wednesday.

Michigan is also trying to move forward on an interstate online poker bill, allowing the state to share a cash pool with various states, including New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada, and perhaps Pennsylvania.

Over the summer, state representatives had announced that, at best, online gaming platforms would go live in October. However, delays due to the number of parties involved and an issue with the Federal Bureau of Investigation over accessing fingerprint databases for licensing background checks slowed down the legislative process.

The Governor’s order issued on November 15 by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services forced casinos to shut down for three weeks until December 8, as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocketed over the past weeks.

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