Michigan Takes Next Step to Launch Online Casino Gambling
Citizens of Michigan are eagerly looking forward to the launch of online casino gambling and sports betting in the state. While some lawmakers are trying to get online gambling launched in October, that is looking unlikely.
The good news is that the process towards launch is progressing. On September 23rd, a public consultation will be held to discuss the latest draft of online gambling rules and regulations. This is just the next in a long process that will eventually lead to legal online gambling in the Wolverine State.
Public to Comment on Rules Draft
On September 23rd, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) will hold a consultation with the general public on the next draft of operating rules for online gambling. These rules will apply to online casinos, online poker rooms, and online sportsbooks in the state.
This consultation is to educate the public and elicit feedback on the rules. Rules will cover topics such as player protections, responsible gaming initiatives, licensing procedures, technical requirements, and various internal controls for casino operators and third-party providers.
While viewed as a formality, the public can give feedback, and if something is deemed severe enough, it may prompt a change from the MGCB. After this consultation, the rules continue their path to certification.
Licensing Already Underway
Michigan started taking applications for licensing back in May, and that process continues. However, licenses cannot be issued until operating rules are approved. Among early applicants are BetMGM and FanDuel. Penn National is also applying for a license.
Presently, three casinos operate in Detroit. MotorCity Casino, Greektown Casino, and MGM Grand Detroit will be the primary operators. However, tribal casinos can also apply, so up to 25 additional operators may apply for licensing.
It is unknown at this point how many have applied, but the upfront cost is favorable to many casinos. There is a $50,000 application fee and a $100,000 licensing fee to become licensed in Michigan. Afterward, licensees must pay $50,000 annually.
Casinos will also pay taxes, but the state uses a sliding scale that ranges from 8% up to 23%. Estimates on potential tax revenue hover from $15 million on the low end up to $30 million in a best-case scenario.
Will Online Gambling Go Live By Christmas?
The big question now remaining is when online gambling will launch in Michigan. Lawmakers were trying to speed up the timeline due to the coronavirus pandemic, but an October launch is nearly impossible.
Some analysts and potential operators think that a Fall 2020 launch is still possible, but that would require rule-makers and the MGCB to stay on task. Currently, they are lagging behind estimates. In the best-case scenario, we could see online gambling in Michigan by Christmas.
A more realistic timeline would be a Spring 2021 launch. This will give rule-makers plenty of time to finalize and approve operating rules. Next, it would provide the MGCB ample time to complete any licensing for potential operators and third-party providers.
Operators can then work on bringing their products to launch. If Michigan follows Pennsylvania’s lead, online casinos and sports betting will launch first with online poker following close behind.
Keep in mind that this only applies to Michigan. Like New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, online gambling will be ring-fenced. This means that only those players physically located in the state can participate.
Players will need to login to their preferred casino, sportsbook, or online poker room using Wi-Fi. If their device is not identifiable, then they will not be able to play. Also, those outside of Michigan will not be able to tunnel in using VPN.
However, you don’t have to be a citizen of the state. Visitors to the state can also play, provided their location is verified over Wi-Fi.