Michigan online gaming, sports betting on verge of launch

The wait for online casino gaming and sports betting in Michigan is almost over.

Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director Richard Kalm said Tuesday morning during the board’s monthly meeting that an announcement regarding approved operators, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, could happen anytime between now and Jan. 19.

“We’re very close,” Kalm said. “I wish I could give an exact day and time, but each day that changes. We’re gathering information daily.”

Once the board gives the final approval, Kalm said there will be a four- or five-day period before platform providers can begin accepting wagers, which will allow for additional testing time before their applications go live.

Only licensed casinos in Michigan — the 24 tribal casinos and three Detroit casinos – are allowed by law to offer online gaming and sports betting. Under Michigan’s 2019 sports betting law, wagers cannot be placed until at least one of the state’s commercial casinos and one of its tribal casinos earn their respective online wagering licenses.

On Dec. 10, the MGCB approved provisional licenses for 15 platform providers, allowing them to launch their applications. However, bets cannot be placed until final approval is granted.

RELATED: What to know as Michigan prepares to launch online gambling and sports betting

DraftKings, which has partnered with Bay Mills Resort & Casino in Brimley, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, expects to be one of the first platform providers to go live in Michigan.

“We’ve been working really hard to be ready and we are ready to go as soon as the process is complete and the boxes are checked on the Michigan Gaming Control Board side,” Matt Kalish, DraftKings co-founder and president, told MLive last week. “We’re really excited to hopefully a wrap up that process pretty quickly and get in market and start going.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill in December 2019 to legalize sports betting and internet gambling, but it has been a long, painstaking process to receive rules approval and necessary legislative endorsement.

In-person sports betting in Michigan launched on March 11 but was strained by the COVID-19 pandemic. Detroit casinos were forced to shut down on multiple occasions and have had to operate at reduced capacity when open.

Michigan’s commercial casinos earned $18.3 million in revenue in 2020, according to a MGCB news release Tuesday. Overall, the three Detroit casinos reported about $639 million in aggregate revenue for 2020, down 56% from 2019. But online gaming and sports betting could be an avenue for casinos to make up for substantial losses incurred in 2020 while also generating millions in tax revenue for the state and Detroit.

MichiganSharp.com projects that online casinos and sports betting could bring in $650 million in annual revenue for Michigan’s commercial and tribal casinos.

“I think we’ll see upwards of 90% of sports betting handle come from mobile betting,” Geoff Fisk, an analyst for MichiganSharp.com, told MLive last month. “Online casino gaming will really take off as the industry matures and the online platforms add more games.”

The minimum age for online gambling and sports betting is 21.

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