Michigan Regulated Online Sportsbooks, Casinos To Go Live Friday At Noon

Friday at high noon will mark the greatest gold rush in Michigan in recent memory, as nine different online sportsbooks have been authorized to launch operations.

The nine sportsbooks that can launch at lunchtime Friday are DraftKings, William Hill, Barstool, TwinSpires (formerly BetAmerica), Golden Nugget, BetRivers, BetMGM, FanDuel, and WynnBET. All of the nine, except for Barstool, can also launch their online casinos.

“The Michigan Gaming Control Board and the state’s commercial and tribal casinos will begin a new era Jan. 22 with the launch of regulated online gaming and sports betting,” Richard S. Kalm, MGCB executive director, said in a press release. “Michigan residents love sports and, judging by inquiries we’ve received, eagerly anticipate using mobile devices to place bets through the commercial and tribal casinos. Online gaming and sports betting will provide the casinos with new ways to engage with customers while the state and local communities will benefit from taxes and payments on wagering revenue.”

Kalm said the lag between today’s announcement and the operators going live will allow the sites additional time for testing and adjustments.

The MGCB said in the coming days, weeks, and months they will authorize the other six sportsbooks that have been granted licenses in the state, but were not yet ready for launch.

“We want the public to have confidence when they place wagers, and our agency has required the providers to prove they meet Michigan’s standards, which are designed to protect the participants,” Kalm said.

Six others still waiting for approval

The six sportsbooks waiting for their final approval from the MGCB are PointsBet, FOX Bet, Parx, and the entries from FireKeepers, Soaring Eagle, and Four Winds tribes.

According to the press release, the tax rate for the online sportsbooks is 8.4 %, and the tax rate for online gaming ranges from 20 to 28%. The three Detroit casinos also may be required to pay a municipal services fee.

Allocations of the tax dollars is as follows: For the Detroit casinos, 30% goes to the city, 5% to the state’s Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund, and 65% to the state Internet Sports Betting Fund. For the tribal casinos, 90% goes to the Internet Sports Betting Fund and 10% to the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Other money collected will go toward funding for the MGCB, the Compulsive Gaming Prevention Fund, the State School Aid Fund, and the First Responder Fund.

The MGCB has also published an FAQs page as well as patron dispute forms and a sports wagering catalog on its website at michigan.gov/mgcb.

Additionally, the MGCB notes each site will have information on self-exclusion, and also wants to remind residents of the 24-hour gambling problem helpline at 1-800-270-7117.

The road to Michigan residents being allowed to place online bets kicked into high gear in December 2019 when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a comprehensive sports betting and casino bill into law.

By mid-March, casinos in Michigan — both the trio of Detroit casinos, which are overseen by the state, and the phalanx of tribal casinos, which fall under federal regulation — were ready to take sports bets in person, as the Michigan Gambling Control Board continued working behind the scenes to get the online aspect of the legislation up to snuff. Finally, March 12 rolled around, and the books opened up.

Pandemic quickly shut down retail betting

Within days of opening the sportsbooks, they were abruptly shuttered by Whitmer’s coronavirus lockdown, which held in place for the Detroit casinos and their sportsbooks until Aug. 5. Some of the tribal operators opened earlier. For the rest of the summer and into early fall, things were looking bright in the sportsbook world of Michigan. The Tigers partnered up with PointsBet, the Lions partnered up with BetMGM, and in early August, Whitmer allowed Detroit’s casinos to reopen, albeit at 15% capacity.

All the while, the MGCB continued working behind the scenes to ready the online roll-out.

Of course, the second wave of the coronavirus caused Whitmer to once again close down the Detroit properties, and the launch of the online sportsbooks could not come soon enough for the major players.

The next big — and final hurdle — was met on Nov. 30 when the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) waived through the rules and regulations concerning online wagering and gaming, which officially marked the end of the legislative process for online gaming in the state. At that point, it was up to the MGCB to finish the job, getting the operators licensed, testing their software, making sure everything was kosher.

While there were hopes this would all happen by the end of 2020, it became clear it was going to be a January 2021 kind of thing.

And Tuesday afternoon, it finally happened, with the announcement of the Friday launch.

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