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Michigan Mobile Betting Not Dead Yet

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Michigan Mobile Betting Not Dead Yet
A man placing his bet. Mark Makela/Getty Images/AFP

The idea of a much-needed and much-anticipated mobile sports betting platform for Michigan before 2021 was all but put to rest last week as reports surfaced about state legislators running out of time in order to get something done. But a new week brings with it new optimism that Michigan citizens could indeed start placing bets via mobile apps before the end of this year.

December 1, today, looks like the day that those in charge of legislating mobile sports betting are prepared to sign off on a set of rules and regulations for such a platform. If they do indeed do, the end of 2020 is definitely attainable for betting apps to go live.

“Everybody wants to get this thing going,” Joint Committee on Administrative Rules Chairman Sen. Pete Lucido said. “This is something that’s long overdue at this point. It’s being done in other states. We’re losing opportunity costs.”

The Long Road

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4916 on December 31, 2019. It has taken almost a full year to see a mature and comprehensive legal sports betting platform come to fruition. COVID-19 was a major stumbling block – in-person betting was launched five days before the state had to shut down in March due to COVID-19.

COVID, up until yesterday looked as though it was ready to further delay mobile betting in the state. After all, the retail side has been shut down again and the virus isn’t going away.

So, from an original launch date of the start of the NFL season, to its delayed launch date of Thanksgiving, December might be the final drop-dead date for mobile sports betting to go live in Michigan.

What Changed?

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules originally had 15 days before the end of the session to get something hammered out with regard to legal sports betting for Michigan. It appeared at first that it wouldn’t be enough time but now it looks as though that committee will either maximize that time or waive the remaining time altogether.

Waiving the time, which is expected to happen, would allow the Michigan Gaming Control Board to start ploughing through with a licensing process. State regulators will be ready and eager to forge ahead with launch plans immediately once the order is given.

A spokesperson familiar with the legal sports betting situation in Michigan scene said: “If JCAR waives the 15-day rule review requirement on Tuesday, the MGCB [Michigan Gaming Control Board] remains hopeful that online gaming and sports betting can start this year. Launch also depends on when the operators are eligible for licensing and all of their partners (suppliers and vendors) are fully licensed or registered. The MGCB also must receive approval letters from an independent test lab that the platform and various games meet all technical requirements.”

“… The MGCB expects to get a clearer picture of when launch will occur as more of the required materials are submitted during December.”

What’s at Stake

Michigan is widely viewed as one of the most exciting legal sports betting markets in the country. As of now, there are three commercial casinos and 23 tribal casinos in the state, all of which have shown a willingness and eagerness to launch an online sportsbook. Some estimates see the Michigan sports betting market hit between $4 billion to $6 billion once the market fully matures.

Michigan has 10 million citizens (10th in the Nation) and the Detroit Lions of the NFL, the Detroit Pistons of the NBA, the Detroit Tigers of MLB, the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL and two major collegiate programs the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans for the market to take advantage of.

With no retail betting going on in the state thanks to the latest COVID lockdowns, mobile betting is viewed as more crucial than ever.

In the End…

Mobile sports betting is the present and the future of the industry. States that presently have strong mobile platforms have consistently reported about 90% of their total sports betting handles coming via mobile means. Colorado just reported 98% of their record handle coming from betting apps.

The two National DFS Giants, Barstool Sportsbook, PointsBet, William Hill, FoxBet, BetRivers, Wynn Sports, BetAmerica and a host of other smaller names have already signaled a readiness to get a piece of the Michigan pie. Penn National, BetMGM and one of the two DFS juggernauts already have a presence in the state.

The state of Michigan seems to have all of their ducks in a row. All that’s left is an official announcement and a mobile launch date for Michigan. And then they can start their climb up the ladder of the most bet-friendly states in the nation.