It’s been a long time in coming and the path hasn’t always been the smoothest. It now seems, however, that there will be a new addition to the online gaming and poker industry in the States of America. The state of Michigan is working on final approvals with operators and casinos inside the Wolverine State, making a launch in November a potential reality.
One Good Thing About COVID-19?
It is entirely within reason that the one good thing about the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting shutdown in Michigan provided the impetus for the quick action in the state. Seeing the boom in action in other states that already had established online gaming and poker arenas, the Michigan General Assembly didn’t want to waste any time getting their industry started. But they still went through a stringent process while being expedient.
In April, the Michigan Gaming Control Board completed all its rules and regulations and, a quick month later, applications for play began to flow into the regulatory body. By July, the MGCB stated that they had more than two dozen applications from suppliers, vendors and gaming operators looking to be a part of the Michigan market. In September, two independent test labs (ITL) were granted permission to operate.
What does this mean? It is possible that, by the start of November, the Michigan online gaming, sports betting and poker industry will be live for action. It could be a bit longer for some, depending on passing through regulatory approval. But most assuredly Michiganders will be able to partake of online gaming options before the end of the year.
A Long, Strange Trip
To say that the journey of online gaming in the state of Michigan has been a long, strange trip would be a huge understatement. Back in 2018, the Michigan General Assembly worked overtime in passing online gaming and poker regulations after negotiating with the outgoing Governor at the time, Republican Rick Snyder, for their passage. Just before Christmas of 2018, the legislature approved the final law, known as House Bill 4926, and were confident that they would join a small fraternity in the U. S. online gaming industry at that time.
Snyder, however, shattered the bonhomie of the agreement with the legislature. In tackling more than 40 different bills that had been sent to him for signature and approval into law, Snyder swept them aside with a veto of all legislation. He also waited long enough that the legislature could not reconvene to potentially override any of his vetoes, including the online gaming bill. Lawmakers were furious, but there was little that they could do about the situation.
The new incoming Governor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, had remained noncommittal about online gaming’s chances in her administration throughout the campaign for Governor. Once in office, she agreed with many of Snyder’s assertions for his veto – that the impact on the Michigan live casino gaming system wasn’t known – and waited for the legislature to present her with evidence. Once she was assured that the casino industry would be a part of the online operations and not affected by it, she signed off on the deal in December of last year.
There are still a few questions left on the agenda for Michigan online gaming. There are questions of whether the state will compact with anyone for online poker, to maximize the potential player pool. That question will be answered after the November elections, although it is unknown what operators would be able to take advantage of an interstate option; currently only the Caesars Entertainment-owned WSOP.com is in three markets (Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware) because no other operators have licensed options in Nevada or New Jersey.
Bottom line is two factions are ready to go in Michigan. The legislature is looking for the licensing and taxation revenues to start flowing into the state’s coffers. Michiganders are also raring to go for a legal option inside their state. The only question for Michigan now is when the switch will be thrown.