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Michigan sets January 22 launch date for online betting and gaming


The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has approved eight operators to launch both online betting and gaming – and a ninth permission to launch online wagering alone – from Friday (January 22).

Richard S. Kalm, executive director of the MGCB, said that with significant consumer demand, he expected the state to post high revenue figures and generate significant returns through taxation from the long-awaited launch.

“The Michigan Gaming Control Board and the state’s commercial and tribal casinos will begin a new era January 22 with the launch of regulated online gaming and sports betting,” Kalm said.

“Michigan residents love sports and, judging by inquiries we’ve received, eagerly anticipate using mobile devices to place bets through the commercial and tribal casinos. 

“Online gaming and sports betting will provide the casinos with new ways to engage with customers while the state and local communities will benefit from taxes and payments on wagering revenue.”

Kalm added that the extra days between today’s announcement and Friday’s launch will allow “additional time for testing and adjustments before the gaming goes live”.

“We want the public to have confidence when they place wagers, and our agency has required the providers to prove they meet Michigan’s standards, which are designed to protect the participants,” he explained.

Each of the state’s three commercial land-based casinos, all located in Detroit, received approval. Penn National Gaming’s Greektown Casino will launch with the operator’s Barstool Sportsbook product and will be the only licensee that is permitted to offer betting but not igaming, with the other eight set to offer both.

The MGM Grand will launch with MGM-Entain joint venture BetMGM while MotorCity Casino partnered with Flutter’s FanDuel brand.

Six Native American tribes will also offer online betting and gaming. Bay Mills Indian Community agreed a deal with betting and daily fantasy giant DraftKings while the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians partnered with William Hill. 

Hannahville Indian Community joined forces with Churchill Downs Interactive’s recently revamped TwinSpires brand.

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians each partnered with a business that recently spun off from a major land-based operator to go public. The Keenaw Bay’s Obijbwa Casino will work with Golden Nugget Online Gaming and the Little River Casino Resort with Rush Street Interactive

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians agreed a deal with Wynn, which itself has partnered with platform supplier GAN.

The Board added that it expects to grant further authorizations “in the coming days and weeks”.

Last month, it approved provisional licenses for a total of 15 platforms, including all nine operators approved to launch, as well as The Stars Group’s Fox Bet brand, PointsBet and Scientific Games’ NYX Digital Gaming arm.

Retail sports betting – legalised in the same bill as online betting and gaming – launched in Michigan in March 2020 after a bill from Representative Brandt Iden became law, but the vertical was quickly disrupted by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Last week, the MGCB reported a 56.1% year-on-year drop in revenue from Detroit’s three commercial casinos in 2020, after operations were disrupted by the pandemic.

Operators in the state may soon also be able to offer poker products with liquidity shared across state lines, after Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill permitting interstate poker.