The wait might soon be over.
Online casino gaming and mobile sports betting may be coming soon to Michigan. In Tuesday’s public board meeting, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) provided an update on the status of the state’s online launch, and it was positive news for the players who have waited for mobile betting.
Richard Kalm, Executive Director of the MGCB, said an official announcement regarding a timeline for the state’s launch could come as early as this week, but numerous operators are already poised to get the go-ahead from the MGCB to launch soon.
“We’re very, very close,” Kalm said. “We’re really kind of waiting on some last odds and ends for some of our operators. There are several operators who will get the OK to launch. Most of the operators will launch sports betting and online gaming simultaneously.
“We’ve been working very hard to get the last-minute details done. Independent test lab information and some of the licensing documents and information that we’ve been documenting and processing for some months now.”
According to Kalm, 53 entities and 175 vendors have applied for either iGaming or sports betting licensed applications. The MGCB has also issued 32 provisional licenses to different entities and provisional sports betting licenses to 27 different entities and registered 87 vendors for sports betting and 112 for internet gaming.
But even when the MGCB grants operators permission to go live in Michigan, Kalm warned it could take a few days before players in the state can start placing bets.
“When we make the announcement that several operators who we identify can go live, there will be a four or five-day lag,” he said, “because by the time they turn everything on and test their throughput, they do some testing and will have to do those things before they go live. So, our authorization will give them the OK to go, but it will be up to the platform provider to when they are actually able to accept wagers. So, there are some things they will have to do as far as testing when we give them the OK.”
The operators who have met the licensing and regulation requirements set by the MGCB will be granted permission to launch when the MGCB gives the go-ahead. During the board meeting, Kalm mentioned there are three operators who have met that criteria and are ready to launch now.
He also stated the MGCB won’t hold up any operators once they do meet the licensing requirements, and that the timeline for when certain operators launch will be up to them and how quickly they can finalize their licensing and regulatory requirements.
“We will launch whoever is ready,” Kalm said. “By that I mean they are not quite ready yet. There are some documents needed, and some last-minute internal control issues we are dealing with and some licensing. We have some that are closer than others. We have three providers ready to go with online gaming and sports betting. When (the operators) have their whole package ready, they’ll get the OK to go.
“We won’t differentiate. If they have all their suite of games ready, they can launch. If they have only sports betting ready, they can launch. We don’t want to stand in the way. We want all the safeguards in place. We’re not saying who goes first and goes second, we’re saying let’s go.”
Kalm wasn’t prepared to give an official update on the status of each operator and where certain ones stand in the approval process. He noted that the MGCB will release the operators who are ready in a public announcement in the coming days.
One of the questions during the Q&A portion of the meeting dealt with online poker. Kalm mentioned that online poker will be available directly to one of the operators at the time of the initial launch.
Kalm also elaborated on the status of interstate poker within the state. While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed interstate poker into law this past December, Kalm still projects it wouldn’t be until late 2021 for interstate poker.
“We have a lot of work to do with that,” he said. “We have to enter into interstate compacts with other states that want to be involved with us. We’ve had some discussions with the state of New Jersey. That’s on the future and on the horizon.
“I don’t expect that to launch anytime soon. Maybe the end of 2021 because we’re all hands on deck to get all 15 operators and platform providers going with online sports and online casino-style games.”