Michigan to wait for online sports betting until 2021; state’s three casinos could see retail product for March Madness

After a four-year-effort, in December 2019, the state of Michigan finally legalized retail and online sports betting, however, it could take up to a year for the latter to actually launch in the Great Lakes State.

According to a Wednesday statement from the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB), while this spring may see sports bettors wagering at Detroit casinos, they may have to wait until 2021 to partake online.

Laws take effect:

The update given by Mary Kay Bean, spokeswoman for the state’s regulatory agency, comes on the heels of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signing legislation to legalize sports betting and internet gambling on December 20, 2019. While the laws (Lawful Internet Gambling Act and Lawful Sports Betting Act) took effect immediately, it will, according to Bean, take a year to complete the rule-making process that will make it possible for the state‘s tribal casinos and commercial casinos in Detroit to obtain sports bettor licenses.

“We are at a very early stage of this process,” Bean said. “The agency must establish several sets of administrative rules, which pass through many levels of review. The timing of implementation depends not only on our agency but also on decisions other departments, agencies and the Legislature make along the way,” according to the Associated Press via the Detroit Free Press.

Spring retail launch:

Bean reportedly said that the goal of the regulatory body “is to authorize onsite sports betting at the Detroit casinos this spring.” And that, “timing will depend on how quickly we receive applications, can approve the casinos’ internal controls and are able to issue required licenses.”

While neighboring states such as Indiana and Iowa enacted emergency rules to get sports wagering up in time for the NFL season, with sports betting and mobile wagering starting five months and three months respectively, after enabling legislation passed, that won’t be possible in Michigan, since according to MGCB leadership, Gov. Whitmer instructed that they [emergency rules] not be used to accelerate the process.

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According to Legal Sports Report, Bean said…

“Emergency rules are used on the rare occasions when a department or agency finds a threat to health, safety and welfare, and the governor must concur. The MCGB is following the regular rule process, which provides opportunities for stakeholder and public input, a public hearing and submission of a regulatory impact statement.”

March Madness hopeful:

While Michigan missed the mobile sports betting boat for the 2019 NFL season, due to the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act of 1997, the state’s casinos could see sports wagering in time for March Madness.

The act that created casino gaming in “The Wolverine State” also gives the regulatory agency (MGCB) broad authority to authorize gambling games within the state’s casinos. Sports betting in Michigan is considered a gambling game just like slot machines or blackjack which are offered in casinos the state.

MGM Grand Detroit, which worked hard to bring about sportsbetting in Michigan, opened its Moneyline Sports Lounge in October. The $6 million sports bar and entertainment venue that currently features a full bar along with bar-top video poker machines, stadium seating and 60TVs, will include a number of betting windows and self-service kiosks once the MGCM signs off.

While retail sports betting in the northern state doesn’t have to go through a rule-making process, since it is a new gambling game, however, some additional internal controls must be approved by the regulatory agency. Considering that there are only three retail casinos in Michigan, including MGM Grand Detroit,  Greektown Casino Hotel and MotorCity Casino Hotel, the process should not take too long.

Snyder veto:

A similar package of online gaming bills (sans sports betting) was passed by the R 7BALL CX epublican-controlled legislature in December 2018. However, then-Gov. Rick Snyder. Snyder, a Republican, shockingly vetoed the bills just days before leaving office.