Michigan Online Poker and Casinos Could Launch in 2020

Michigan Online Poker and Casinos Could Launch in 2020

This has been a rough year for person and business sector in America. The same goes for many other countries around the world. The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been devastating.

In the United States, casinos and all live gambling venues are in the troubled sector. After closing within the first weeks of March, most have had little to no revenue from customers. The exceptions, however, are casinos with online gambling partners. That online gaming revenue won’t save a casino’s bottom line, but it is a form of revenue and a continuous link to customers.

This has proven beneficial in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nevada (which provides no revenue figures).

Michigan is a state that did legalize online poker and casino games in December 2019, but the process of launching such an industry is detailed and lengthy. However, times are changing, and drastic times call for drastic measures. Casinos are in desperate need of financial boosts, and this need will likely continue for the foreseeable future. This may speed up the online gaming timeline.

Early Predictions of 2021

Initial predictions indicated a likely launch of online gambling in Michigan in 2021. This estimate was based on the average time it took for other states to prepare and launch their gaming sites. Most recently, Pennsylvania took nearly two years from the time its bill passed to the launch of its online casinos, and online poker was the last to launch.

Since Michigan only passed its law in late December of 2019, it would make sense that online poker would be at least one year into the future, if not more.

Word from the Michigan Gaming Control Board seemed to solidify the 2021 start date. Per US Poker, MGCB representative Mary Kay Bean said the rules are in development. And until the administrative rules are published, the MGCB cannot issue licenses or even divulge the names of applicants. She also added, “We expect online sports and casino-style betting to become available next year.”

Attempts for Emergency iGaming

As the pandemic began to hurt casinos and gambling establishments in Michigan and the long-term harm became clearer, Republican lawmakers began to ask Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to use emergency rules that would allow for expedited launches of gambling websites. One of those lawmakers was the champion of the online gambling bill, Representative Brandt Iden.

However, Whitmer’s office said the pandemic doesn’t meet the requirements necessary to instigate emergency rule-making under the Administrative Procedures Act of 1969.

Whitmer’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs, Jasmine Tompkins, responded to lawmakers with that message. “We will proceed with the ordinary rulemaking with the draft rules you have received, but with an effort to complete the process without delay and as swiftly as possible, while complying with all applicable steps and time periods mandated for the process.”

Quicker Pace Could Mean 2020 Launches

The statement from Tompkins assured no delays and completing the process as swiftly as possible. That may not mean rules finalized next week and licenses issued next month, but it seems to move the timetable forward a bit.

Play Michigan spoke with Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Richard Kalm about the process.

“We’re trying to start the licensing process a little bit ahead of the rules,” Kalm said. While Kalm agreed that Whitmer’s office did the right thing in not allowing for emergency rules, there are things that the MGCB can do.

And the MGCB is doing just that. They sent a draft of the rules to stakeholders last month to begin to formalize online sports betting, poker, and casino games regulations. “They’ve been weighing in and commenting on the rules, so we’ll have a set of rules soon,” Kalm said.

The period for comments ends this week, so the rules could be finalized soon. However, state committees must approve those rules. In addition, he did admit that the licensing process could take a bit longer than the drafting of the rules, as it involves in-depth vetting of online gambling and betting operators.

Even so, it appears that many now anticipate some form of online gaming available in Michigan before the end of 2020.



About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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