Michigan lawmakers heard the call and responded. They knew that the launch of online gaming and sports betting sites would be consequential in generating some revenue as land-based casinos continue to struggle with pandemic restrictions. Lawmakers approved a process waiver, and the Michigan Gaming Control Board issued 15 provisional licenses this week.
It might not seem like a process that took the better part of a year qualifies as expediting anything, but mixing new technology with laws and regulations is often a painfully slow system. Remember that Pennsylvania took several years to launch its first internet gaming sites.
Poker fans may be disappointed because none of the licenses mention online poker. Sports betting and internet casino games are the focus.
Operators must still complete some paperwork and testing requirements before launching their sites, so launches seem unlikely before the end of 2020. However, it is likely that the first days or weeks of 2021 will deliver some online gambling options.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) took care of its business as quickly as possible this year. As soon as the pandemic hit in March and shut down all of the casinos and land-based gambling establishments, the MGCB moved swiftly to draft the official rules for the online industry.
The delays occurred when lawmakers received drafts for approval. Granted, the Michigan legislature had a few other issues on their plate with the pandemic and all.
Nevertheless, when we checked in for the November MGCB meeting, we learned that the igaming process was in the hands of lawmakers…again.
On October 6, the MGCB sent what it hoped would be the last revision of the rules to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). Per the process, JCAR needed to be able to view the rules for 15 session days. However, it seemed that there might not be enough session days to meet that requirement before the end of 2020.
So, the MGCB requested a waiver to bypass the remaining calendar days and approve the rules.
JCAR members did sign that waiver. The rules went to the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules (MOAHR) for filing. MOAHR filed the rules for internet gaming and internet sports betting on December 2. The agency also set the effective date for December 2.
The next step would be to issue provisional gaming licenses to operators.