Michigan Closer to Launching Online Sports Betting & iGaming

Michigan Closer to Launching Online Sports Betting & iGaming
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Michigan completed its next major step toward launching its iGaming and online sports betting platforms by hosting a virtual public hearing Wednesday to receive comments on the rules for both.

According to the state’s rulemaking process, there will now be an approximate 40-day period for the agency to submit the final draft of rules to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to the Michigan Office of Administrative Hears and Rules. From there, certificate of adoption is an estimated 25-day process, which could lead to Michigan launching online casino gaming and online sports betting in November.

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“The Michigan Gaming Control Board appreciates the feedback provided by stakeholders and the public on proposed rules for internet gaming and internet sports betting,” MGCB executive director Richard Kalm said. “Today, our agency completed a key step in the rulemaking process by holding a public hearing on the two sets of proposed rules.”

More About Michigan Public Hearing

Just two people spoke during the three-hour hearing. Thirty minutes into the hearing, Andrew Bernell was the first to open the floor by asking why online gaming and online sports betting wasn’t a bigger priority compared to in-person sportsbooks, given the COVID19 pandemic that has hit the country. Bernell was specifically inquiring about an emergency authorization from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in hopes of online gaming being launched sooner.

“It makes no sense to me that this hasn’t been streamlined or fast-tracked,” he said. “I don’t understand why she can’t sign an emergency authorization of it, but part of it is also within the Michigan Gaming Control Board because I don’t understand why this isn’t a bigger priority or why this hasn’t been sped up … I think a lot of this is people being frustrated by government bureaucracy.”

CHECK OUT: Top online Michigan sportsbooks

David Murley, head of MGCB Indian Gaming and Legal Affairs Division, responded by offering to call Bernell to explain the situation. Murley also reiterated the public hearing was meant for the proposed administrative rules.

“Our goal is to get input into the actual proposed administrative rules,” he said. “And to whatever extent, we can explain what those rules say or what our thinking was, and we will try to do that.”

Marko Tomich was the only other person to ask a question during the hearing. Just under an hour after Bernell, Tomich brought up online poker and was curious what poker platform the state will have up and running first.

In response, Murley highlighted the licensing and rules process online operators have to go through.

“There are a series of licenses that have to be issued,” Murley said. “It would be not only the operator, also the platform provider, and the law does say there can be up to two brands under the Lawful Internet Gaming Act — one for poker and one for general internet gaming. So a lot of that will depend on what the operators and platform providers want, and how quickly the licensing application materials are turned in, reviewed and approved.

“A lot of that will depend entirely not on us, but on the applicants themselves. We’re not the ones who make that decision, they’re the ones who get to decide who it is they wish to use.”

What About Online Poker Timeline?

Marko’s follow-up question dealt with how Michigan online poker fits into the timeline, too. This prompted Murley to highlight the remaining steps that need to be completed for the necessary start period, and he explained how it’s up to the operators and platform providers to decide what games they want to make available and when to release them.

“We’ll have to get the rules turned in and approved,” Murley said. “We think we’ll have the rules turned in in October, but it will be up to the legislature to approve them. Once they actually have to meet and say it’s OK for these rules to go into effect. If they don’t do that, they (the launch) could be pushed off into next year.

“While we think they will, we haven’t heard any negative things from the legislature, we think they’re OK with these rules. It is election season so I don’t know how often they will be meeting from now until the election. So even if this occurs after the election, they will have to meet and say they waive the time they’re allowed that the statute gives us to review these rules, it’s OK if they go into effect.

“Once the rules go into effect, that will allow us to give licenses to both the operators and the platform providers. End of November, that’s our hope. But that will again depend on everything getting turned in, reviewed and approved. Then secondly, ultimately, what the operators and platform providers decide to do in terms of launching their product.”

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