The Michigan Gaming Control Board has approved 15 casinos and their vendors to offer online gambling when it goes live as expected in mid-January. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation legalizing sports betting in December 2019. The three Detroit casinos—MGM Grand Detroit, Motor City and Greektown and 20 of the state’s 23 tribal casinos—all opened sportsbooks.
However, online gaming required a separate set of regulations, which were approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules on December 1. The 15-day waiting period was waived, allowing casinos and the gaming control board to issue licenses immediately.
Among the initial 15 licensees were the American Wagering division of William Hill, GAN, Golden Nugget, Scientific Games’ NYX Digital Gaming arm, Parx Interactive and PointsBet, BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel’s online casino brands. Provisional licenses have since been issued to Gaming Realms, Continent8, NetEnt and AGS. Now each platform must undergo independent testing to ensure the integrity of their games and that they can make sure bets are not placed by anyone underage or not located within the state lines.
Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Rick Kalm said testing labs may be running behind due to a number of states planning to launch online gambling at the same time, including Iowa and Illinois. Another slowdown may be caused by the fact that Michigan was the only state to regulate online gambling for both tribal and commercial casinos.
As a result, the gaming board must license tribal casinos for online sports betting, even though they have operated independently of state oversight as sovereign nations. That means the state must wait until platforms for both a tribal and commercial casino are ready at the same time, in order to give both types of casinos equal opportunity.
Analysts expect online gambling will generate more than $90 million in revenue in its first year. The three commercial Detroit casinos– – will be taxed at 8.4 percent on online gambling revenues, directed to Detroit and to the state which will allocate the money to the School Aid Fund.
Kalm noted, “We have a division of online gaming already inside the agency which will be ensuring internal controls and watching the online gaming format. But we still have the retail side, the commercial casino side, and we have regulators in place there, too. It’s sort of adding another arm to us.”
Meanwhile, Whitmer recently signed Senate Bill 991 that would allow online poker to be played across state lines. Specifically, real-money online poker sites in Michigan could pool players with their sites in other regulated states as well as Native American tribes. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey currently offer interstate poker. The bill passed the state Senate 36-1 and the House 85-16 on December 30. It will take effect before the end of March.
PokerStars, owned by FanDuel, is expected to be first online poker platform to go live.