Michigan Approves 15 Provisional Online Gaming and Sports Betting Licenses

  • Licensees must comply with other regulatory requirements before legal online wagering launches
  • Exact rollout date depends on the platform providers' speed in meeting these standards
  • Application process for Michigan online gaming and betting licenses began in May
  • Residents can register for online gambling accounts before internet services go live
  • Online gambling expansion in the state got legal approval in December 2019
Stamp saying granted
Michigan’s regulator has issued 15 provisional online gaming and sports betting licenses ahead of the imminent launch of internet gambling in the state. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Update: According to a Fox17 new report on January 11, MGCB executive director Richard Kalm indicated that “Michigan’s online sports betting launch is set to take place Anytime between the 12th and 19th this month.”

Edging closer to launch

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has announced its approval of provisional licenses for 15 platform providers to power online gaming and sports betting in the state.

exact launch date will therefore depend on how quickly the providers can meet such standards

The companies are partnering with local commercial and tribal casinos to launch the upcoming platforms. They will first have to comply with other regulatory requirements before legal online gambling can go live in Michigan. The exact launch date will therefore depend on how quickly the providers can meet such standards, which include independent testing of games and platforms, getting the MGCB’s all-clear on internal controls, and obtaining occupational licenses for workers.

The operators to receive provisional licenses on Thursday were American Wagering, Inc. (d/b/a William Hill Sportsbook), Betfair Interactive US LLC (d/b/a FanDuel Sportsbook), BetMGM, LLC (d/b/a Roar Digital), Churchill Downs Interactive Gaming, LLC (d/b/a TwinSpires), Crown MI Gaming LLC (d/b/a DraftKings), GAN Nevada Inc., Golden Nugget Online Gaming, Inc., NYX Digital Gaming (USA), LLC, Parx Interactive Inc., Penn Sports Interactive, LLC, PointsBet Michigan LLC, Rush Street Interactive MI, LLC, Sports Information Services Limited (d/b/a Kambi), TSG Interactive US Services Limited (d/b/a Fox Bet), and WSI US, LLC (d/b/a Wynn Sports).

Assessing the applicants

The application process for legal online gambling licenses in Michigan began in mid-May. Since then, the MGCB has been assessing the applications, looking at branding submissions and internal controls, as well as communicating licensing requirements. The review process covers possible operators, vendors, suppliers, and platform providers.

no wagering until the regulator gives its final approval

The board is allowing the licensed platform providers and operators to roll out their mobile offerings in the respective app stores before online gambling goes live. State residents will be able to download the apps and register for an account, but there will be no wagering until the regulator gives its final approval to launch. 

All 26 brick-and-mortar casinos in Michigan can apply for internet gambling licenses, but not all of them are planning to do so. The MGCB also wants all licensed operators to go live at the same time.

Journey to legalization

The expansion of gambling in Michigan began when Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a gaming expansion bill into law in December 2019. Since then, there has been a gradual process to get retail sports betting launched alongside online casino gaming, sports betting, poker, and daily fantasy sports.

Retail sports betting activity began in mid-March, right before the initial pandemic-related shutdowns. After reopening in August, Detroit’s three casinos had to close once more on November 18 because of rising cases of COVID-19. The state’s retail sportsbook facilities, operated by Penn Sports, BetMGM, and FanDuel, will therefore remain shut until at least December 20.

Operators PointsBet, BetRivers, DraftKings, and William Hill have struck tribal gaming partnerships in Michigan. Some of the 23 tribal casinos in the state have closed voluntarily considering the pandemic situation. However, tribal sovereignty puts them under no obligation to follow state closure orders.

The Joint Committee on Legislative Rules green-lighted the rules for online gaming and sports betting at the beginning of December. This was the last necessary step before the MGCB could start issuing provisional licenses. 

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