Two years after legalization and a year after the launch of retail betting, Michigan online sports betting will launch within a few days. Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) executive director Richard Kalm said Tuesday that the approved operators, DraftKings and FanDuel, could be allowed to launch anytime between now and January 19. He announced the imminent launch of legal online gambling and digital sports betting during the board’s monthly meeting.
During the board’s meeting, Kalm said they could have an announcement this week as “we’re very close.” He said he wished to give an exact date and time but couldn’t as “each day that changes, so we’re collecting information on daily.” But he reiterated that they are “very, very close.” Once the board gives the final go-ahead, Kalm said there will be a maximum five-day period before sportsbook operators can begin accepting bets, which will allow for additional testing time before their mobile applications go live.
How Have We Reached Here?
Even though more than a year has elapsed since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed internet gambling and sports betting in December 2019 into law, state regulators took time to chalk out rules and regulations to monitor and license the virtual platform. Some experts and lawmakers initially estimated digital sports betting could go live by last March, but things kept delaying due to several reasons, including the pandemic. However, in-person sports betting launched in Michigan days before the COVID-19 disrupted all non-essential businesses in March.
For more than four months, the pandemic-led closures kept the casinos, and their sports betting lounges closed before they were allowed to reopen at reduced capacity. The physical establishments were closed again from November 18 and December 22, resulting in huge drops in gambling revenues in Michigan. The launch of legalized online gambling could help the state to recover from financial losses caused by the pandemic.
A drawn-out rules procedure eventually concluded in December with hopes the market would launch last month after the MGCB approved provisional licenses for 15 sportsbooks on December 10. However, the final approval is still awaited before Michigan launches its online sports betting.
Cautious Optimism for This Week’s Launch
Kalms said he’s cautiously optimistic to “have something either this week or the very first part of the following week to relay to the public.” He realized it seems slow to the people, but he said the regulators must ensure to protect the integrity of the new industry before the eventual launch.
Only licensed casinos in the Wolverine State — the 24 tribal casinos and three Detroit casinos — are authorized to provide online gaming and sports betting. Under Michigan’s law, bets cannot be placed until at least one of Michigan’s commercial casinos, and one of its tribal casinos get their respective digital wagering licenses. Once the final approval is granted, these casinos can link with users via popular digital platforms such as DraftKings and FanDuel.
The minimum age for internet gambling and sports betting is 21.
What Will Michigan Sports Betting Launch Look Like?
It is not yet known who will launch first in Michigan. The MGCB indicated it will be rolling as operators are ready. Some quarters claim DraftKings, which has partnered with Bay Mills Resort & Casino in Brimley, would be among the first platforms to launch in Michigan.
According to Kalm, once the board approves the first operation licenses, it will still take some more days for the operators to go live. It means the approval from the boards won’t mean immediate availability for the sportsbooks to accept wagers the same day. The platforms will still have some tests to complete before the official launch for the public. Kalm indicated there could be up to five days between the board’s approval to launch the Michigan online gambling market and the first sportsbook taking bets. “They already have apps online that you can download. They won’t accept a wager, but you can play on those apps,” Kalm said.
Operators to Launch in Michigan Online Sports Betting
The following 15 digital sportsbook operators have already acquired provisional sports betting licenses and will be launching in Michigan in the near future:
- Churchill Downs
- FOX Bet
- Golden Nugget
- William Hill
- Scientific Games