Operators Expect to Line Up for Michigan Sports Betting Launch

Operators Expect to Line Up for Michigan Sports Betting Launch
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Now that online gaming and sports betting rules have moved through a state legislative committee, the top sportsbooks and online gaming operators are expected to be ready for what could be a December launch in Michigan.

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) on Tuesday waived the required 15 session days for the final draft of the rules to be before the committee. The approval process had been delayed until JCAR approved a waiver request from the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB). Now, the MGCB can send the rules to the Office of the Great Seal.

CHECK OUT: The top Michigan sportsbooks

The licensing approval process will likely take more than a couple of weeks before Michigan residents can start wagering on sports and playing casino games from their mobile devices. The MGCB began accepting internet gaming and sports betting operator license applications in July.

Operators can partner with the three commercial casinos in Detroit and any of the state’s tribal casinos to gain access to Michigan. Sports bettors can expect BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings, Barstool Sports, William Hill and PointsBet, and others, to launch as soon as they can.

DraftKings and FanDuel are offering welcome bonuses to draw in new customers. DraftKings is offering a $200 sign-up bonus that includes a free $100 sportsbook bet and $100 in casino credits, while FanDuel features $50 in casino credit and a $50 sportsbook bet.

Both companies on Monday announced partnership deals with the Detroit Pistons. The Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers also have betting agreements, with the Lions partnering with BetMGM and the Tigers aligning with PointsBet.

After establishing its presence in Pennsylvania, Barstool’s online app is planning its next launch in Michigan, Penn National CEO Jay Snowden said in a recent interview.

One advantage Barstool will have with its launch in Michigan compared to Pennsylvania is that the company will be debuting in the state at the same time as its competitors. The projected launch date is currently set for December, with mobile sports betting first and online casino gaming to follow suit.

“Michigan, we are going to be launching as opposed to playing catchup like we are in Pennsylvania where we are a year late to the game,” Snowden said in the interview with Fantini Research CEO Frank Fantini in October. “In Michigan, the gun goes off, we’re all at the starting line.“

What’s Next in Michigan?

After the state files the completed rules, casino and sportsbook applicants, along with their partners, will be required to earn final licensing approval. All operators must submit approval letters from independent test labs, which are then forwarded to the MGCB.

The MGCB has to ensure that all platforms and games meet the technical requirements before issuing licenses and setting a launch date.

The state could decide to launch a number of operators at the same time, as Tennessee did on Nov. 1, or it can allow operators to go live after receiving the proper approvals.

On Nov. 10 MGCB Executive Director Richard Kalm said the “expected launch date for this is completely determined by when the JCAR finalizes the rules.”

“We would be ready to go,” Kalm said during the MGCB’s virtual meeting. “We have to wait for the suppliers, but everyone is getting ready very closely.”

Timing Couldn’t Be Better

Sports bettors began placing wagers in person at casinos beginning last spring for a few days before having to shut down in mid-March because of the coronavirus. Reopening at limited capacity (15 percent), the casino sportsbooks saw a sports betting handle of $46.1 million in October, resulting in $7.6 million in revenue.

CHECK OUT: Q&A With Michigan Gaming Control Board's Richard Kalm

But with a second wave of the coronavirus striking the Midwest particularly hard, the three Detroit casinos were shut down on Nov. 18 under a state-mandated health order. Seven tribal casinos followed suit.

A late December launch would mark about a year since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a package of gambling bills that permitted iGaming, online poker and sports betting. The legislation made Michigan the first state to have both commercial and tribal casinos feature sportsbooks, poker and casinos.

With its mobile gaming and sports betting launch, Michigan could become one of the most progressive gaming states in the country. It is expected to further increase a U.S. sports betting handle that will likely have topped $3 billion in October when all the states have reported their figures.

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