Analysis

Michigan set for January launch of online betting and gaming

Michigan is on the watchlist as the next major U.S. jurisdiction likely to go live with regulated sports betting, but will have to wait until January before going live.

On 2 December the state’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules waived the usual waiting period of 15 session days to approve the final regulations.

It was a bid to speed up the process so that regulation could pass before the end of the year.

However, operators and platform providers must first submit approval letters from independent testing laboratories.

Richard Kalm, executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, told local media that without the JCAR’s waiver, officials would have had to re-submit the rules in January.

The delay could be worse. With a new set of lawmakers following November’s election coming into post, launch could have been delayed until after the Super Bowl.

Early January launch

Kalm said he now expects some online operators to go live in early January.

“The whole thing is going to be dependent on the paperwork they’re submitting,” he said.

“We’re going to give them provisional licenses as soon as we get all the paperwork.

“Also the platforms are required to submit their software and testing labs to make sure they comply with all of our requirements.”

Kalm said the waiving of the rule by the JCAR would have meant a four-week lead time.

But the testing and certification required meant Michigan “might be having to push that back.”

He said the state was now looking at probably six weeks.

In addition, sports wagering can’t begin until at least one of Michigan’s commercial or tribal casinos receive their operator licenses.

Major revenue potential 

“It’s all good. Nothing huge is standing in the way except getting them to the licensure level,” Kalm said.

“I’ve been issuing licenses daily and vendors exemptions daily, so the whole substructure that supports this all ready to go.”

Kalm added that the revenue potential provided by online betting and gaming would be substantial for the state’s land-based casinos.

“They had their best October ever on just sportsbooks, and that was at 15% capacity.

“Operating at 15%, they were still bringing in about 70 to 78% of revenue from a year previousso they were doing great considering COVID.

“What does that say for the appetite (for online gambling)?

“If they could do that much revenue at 15% capacity in October during COVID, just hang on.

“I just think that this is going to be huge for the state.”

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Jake Pollard

Jake Pollard is an experienced journalist and editor who has covered the online gaming and betting industry for many years. He has written for the leading media outlets as well as operators and suppliers in the igaming space. His current areas of focus are wide-ranging and include regulatory developments in the US, emerging markets in South America and how European countries are adapting to a decade of igaming regulation.

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