Gambling enthusiasts in Michigan finally have a finish line in sight for the long-awaited launch of online / mobile sports betting, daily fantasy sports (DFS), poker, and casino games.

According to the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB), the state’s newly legalized iGaming industry will most likely go live by 2021 at the earliest.

MGCP spokeswoman Mary Kay Bean told the Detroit News that, based on timelines established in other states where online / mobile sports betting and/or iGaming has launched, regulators will spend at least a year drafting rules and procedures for the new industry.

One-Year Delay Balanced Based on Other States’ iGaming Rollout

Indiana legalized online / mobile sports betting in May of last year and the industry launched by October, but the state’s expansion didn’t include the poker or casino gambling verticals. Pennsylvania, meanwhile, experienced a two-year wait between passage and implementation of its various online / mobile poker platforms.

Per MGCB policy and state law, the agency must conduct a detailed process involving public hearings and comments, along with regulatory impact statements, regarding its plans for iGaming rules and licensing procedures.

Prospective licensed operators include worldwide online poker leader PokerStars and Australian sportsbook PointsBet, both of which recently inked deals with Native American tribes currently offering casino gaming in Michigan.

In response to a query from a local poker enthusiast on Twitter asking about potential launch dates for PokerStars Michigan, the company’s official account passed the proverbial buck to the MGCB:

“We intend to seek approval to offer our online gaming products in Michigan if and when the state regulates and establishes a reasonable licensing regime.

We will provide more information as soon as it is available.”

But while betting from the comfort of home won’t be offered in Michigan this year, Bean made it clear that brick and mortar sportsbooks should be up and running within a few months:

“For in-person sports betting at the Detroit casinos, the goal for launch is this spring.”

The Michigan Legislature voted to legalize sports betting and iGaming on December 11, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the bill into law nine days later.

Whitmer and lawmakers who spearheaded the effort to expand gambling in the Wolverine State – chief among them state representative Brandt Iden (R-61) – namely reconvened on Tuesday for a ceremonial second signing.

Iden previously guided an iGaming bill to full passage in 2018, but that work was delayed when outgoing Governor Rick Snyder wielded his executive veto powers to kill the legislation.

Key Sponsor Understands Reasons for Regulatory Caution

After this week’s ceremony, Iden issued a statement commemorating an achievement he’s worked several years to secure:

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to bring everyone together and celebrate a great day for the state of Michigan.

Consumers will have safe, regulated online sites and will no longer have to settle for traveling to other states or playing through risky, offshore operators. Our students and schools will have more revenue because of these reforms – without raising general taxes.

These reforms have been more than three years in the making, and I know they will benefit our state for years to come.”

Iden also referenced the 2021 launch target in an interview with the Detroit News:

“I’d like it to be a little bit quicker, but that’s probably the timeline.

Until we’re fully integrated online, I don’t think we’ll be able to capitalize on revenue.

But from a consumer protection standpoint, from getting players interested, certainly getting up and going in person is helpful.”

Jonathan Zaun

One of Gamble Online's first dedicated reporters, Jonathan has spent well over a decade reporting on the gaming industry. While breaking legal news is his main area of expertise, Jonathan is an avid blackjack player & strategist who follows professional poker closely.

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