Online gambling has, for many years, been a grey area for US-based residents. That’s, especially, if you’d like to play using real money. However, different states have chosen to chart their own paths forward on this matter to better cater to their residents’ needs while also generating much-needed revenue from gambling activities.
In Michigan, things started looking up in late December 2019 when the state’s online poker rooms, sportsbooks, and casinos became legalized. That was after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the Lawful Sports Betting Act and the Lawful Internet Gaming Act. These marked the beginning of the online gambling journey for the state, slated to take place during the first half of 2021.
A Change of Plans
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 situation forced Michigan legislators to try and fast track the process for launch in October of 2020 instead. That’s after physical casinos and sports betting venues got forced to shut down as per government regulations to curb the pandemic’s spread.
The situation brought to light the importance of having a secondary revenue stream, considering there’s still no clear picture on when COVID-19 restrictions will ease on social gathering venues.
Delays Due to Red Tape
However, even with the necessary legislators on board with fast-tracking the launch, legal processes still need to be followed. According to the Michigan Gaming Control Board’s best timeline scenario, moving faster would require at least 30 days from when draft rules get published, and a public hearing date gets set.
Unfortunately, it’s already taken 34 days to settle on the hearing date alone. As a result, it seems that the October deadline will need to move forward to November or even December 2020 instead. To try and keep up with the expected timelines, processes like license applications are even happening simultaneously with the law-making process.
Meetings on the Way Forward
On 22nd September, a Senate hearing by the Regulatory Reform Committee occurred with 13 bills up for consideration. Among these was the SB 991 brought forward by Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr.
It’s aimed at amending the LIGA’s language to allow interstate compacts by the MGCB for online poker activities in Michigan. According to Vegas Odds, it’ll enable the sharing of the top online poker sites’ traffic to create a diverse gaming environment.
On 23rd September, the public hearing on iGaming rules took place. This was a necessary formality to get the public’s feedback and answer questions based on the draft released earlier in the month.
The hearing happened online, with 75 people managing to join the call. Since there was no opposition present, David Murley, the MGCB Deputy Director, stated that he foresees a realistic launch date somewhere around Thanksgiving.
With things in full swing, all that’s left is for the submission of a final draft to the Office for Administrative Hearings and Rules. That will be carried out by the Joint Committee of Administrative Rules. Once reviewed and approved, the Legislative Service Bureau will issue a certificate to finalize the process.
Mobile Casino Apps
As a plus, once the final steps are in place, it’s also possible that mobile poker apps will become a reality for Michigan players. These will increase the flexibility with which players can access their preferred games online.