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Panic In Detroit: Michigan Online Sports Betting Still Six Weeks Away

Michigan Stadium with FanDuel sign

Domestic sportsbooks in Michigan were rolled out in March of 2020 and were then quickly shuttered once the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the country.

The Great Lake State was anxious to jumpstart the process of online sports betting in Michigan to make up for shortfalls in tax revenue collections, as domestic sportsbooks have become the band-aid to cover up deficits and fund luxury projects.

Last spring, it was thought that mobile betting apps would waltz in and claw everything into shape like a wild wolverine, but the regulatory process has been slow, much to the chagrin of regional sports bettors.  

The legislative body that has been tasked with regulating Michigan’s domestic sportsbooks is the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), and earlier this week, they met and waived a rule that requires a 15-day waiting period before gaming regulations are approved.

This rule was put in place to give fifteen full days of legislative session for lawmakers to contemplate what they’ve enacted, and to give these new procedures time to breathe in case they missed something vital. MI legislators don’t meet every day, so that automatic pause represents a minimum of three weeks of real-time.

The waiving of this rule indicates the legislature and the JCAR’s intent to swiftly move along the process of approving online sports betting vendors for operation inside the state of Michigan.

This movement has changed the timeframe for domestic online sports betting in MI from early 2021 to within the next 6 weeks.

This waiver also sends a signal to popular domestic books that they can submit their applications now and the review and licensing process can begin. DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM are in line to bid, but no online sports betting entities can even approach the table before one of Michigan’s current casinos earns a license.

The MGM Grand, Greektown, and MotorCity casinos need to establish online sportsbooks before external interests can enter the state and set up shop. One of MI’s Tribal casinos must also receive a license prior to any out-of-state vendors beginning taking bets.

The domestic sportsbooks that are currently in operation have performed well since opening, and have helped make up for the slim profit margins that were caused by coronavirus-related shutdowns and limited capacity requirements at casinos.

Projections are lofty, but achievable once COVID-19 infections subside and businesses can begin allowing customers in without limitation.

An earlier start would have been preferred and more beneficial, but unlike other states, Michigan lawmakers were unable to classify the need for sports betting as an “emergency.”

Because they were unable to do so, legislators had to go through the standard process of making law, which requires several rounds of consideration, committees, debate, etc.

There’s no question now that the quest for legal mobile sports betting applications and online sportsbooks are on the legislative fast-track in Michigan.

The only question now is, how soon can they begin operation? If predictions are correct, interested parties can bet on sports in Detroit while cruising 8 Mile, or while fishing off the coast of Lake Huron, at some point before the end of February 2021.

Source: South Bend Tribune

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