When the state issued a public health order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Detroit’s three commercial casinos were listed as one of the types of businesses forced to temporarily shut down.
Michigan is two weeks into the three-week shutdown and it remains unknown if casinos or other businesses will remain closed when the health order ends on Dec. 9.
"We have not predetermined anything,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said during a news conference this week. “It's going to be driven by where we see the numbers. We have modeling calls and we are getting up-to-date information and so as we continue to monitor the numbers, we're going to also continue to center our work around keeping people safe.”
According to the state’s seven-day moving average for new daily confirmed COVID-19 cases, Michigan has seen some improvement since the shutdown on Nov. 18.
The highest seven-day average for new cases was on Nov. 21 with 7,270. By Dec. 1, that number dropped to 6,534. Whitmer reinforced that if the state continues to see improvement, it’s more likely the shutdown will be lifted sooner, allowing businesses such as restaurants and the casinos to resume activities.
"If everyone does their part, we'll see these numbers drop and we'll be in a stronger position for our health systems that are really seeing numbers fill up,” she said. “That is our most urgent priority right now and what we're focusing on to get our numbers down."
The prospects of Michigan’s online gaming and mobile sports betting launch for 2020 received a boost on Tuesday when the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) waived the required 15 session days for the final draft of the gaming rules to be before the committee.
It was a key step toward Michigan being able to launch its mobile betting platforms before the end of the year. If the JCAR did not waive the 15 required session days, Michigan’s online debut could potentially have been delayed until February 2021.
Now, the Michigan Gaming Control Board will send the final rules to the Office of the Great Seal and begin the licensing approval process from the online casino and sportsbook applicants. The licensing approval process will likely take at least a couple of weeks before Michigan citizens can begin wagering on sports and casino games from their mobile devices.
“Board staff will work with operators, platform providers, suppliers and vendors on pre-launch requirements,” said Mary Kay Bean, MGCB communications specialist. “Launch depends on many things, including applicants submitting all required information, review of that information, approval of the internet platforms and games and other licensing-related tasks. If everything moves forward smoothly, we hope online gaming and sports betting can begin by the end of the year.”