Launch Of Michigan Online Gambling Delayed By COVID-19

  • Michigan is awaiting approval by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) before it can launch its online and mobile gambling applications.
  • The Wolverine State has plans to unveil casino games, sports betting, and poker internet platforms before 2020 ends or 2021 at the latest.

DETROIT – Michigan may need to wait a bit longer than its original Thanksgiving roll out date for mobile and online gambling applications.

The state is waiting on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to approve the rules and regulations that were sent to them by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) on October 6.

At that point, state policy automatically allotted JCAR 15 session days to go over the proposed draft and make a decision.

This would have given JCAR until December 7 to make their final ruling but they were pressured to fasten the pace of their timeframe to be able to give residents in Michigan online gaming by Thanksgiving.

However, that plan has all but vanished which is partially due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Two meetings were set to be held by JCAR on Tuesday and Thursday. The Tuesday meeting made no headway in terms of moving forward on approvals although both operators and suppliers are currently being certified for an impending launch despite JCAR dragging their feet on MGCB’s rule proposal.

Thursday’s meeting was meant to create some action taken toward an approval but it has since been canceled because a number of representatives are now being quarantined with the news that one of their colleagues has tested positive for the Coronavirus.

The next meeting of JCAR is scheduled for December 1. Lawmakers are unsure of how much progress will be made during that meeting, should it take place, which means Michigan could see the launching of its casino, sports betting, and poker online applications roll out in early 2021 instead of 2020 because of these delays.

What Happens Now?

The MGCB is at a standstill and unfortunately, it's not of their own doing.

For internet and mobile gambling platforms to launch in Michigan, licenses need to be given to operators. But licenses cannot be handed out until the rules and regulations have been approved by JCAR.

The ball is in JCAR’s court and despite the push from MGCB, a Thanksgiving launch is unlikely. But the MGCB is hopeful that Michiganders will be able to have these outlets for gambling before 2020 comes to an end.

Poker is also something that has been put on hold as lawmakers have been slow to move on Senate Bill 991 that last saw movement in October. The bill would allow for Michigan poker platforms to allow members to play against gamblers in other states for a chance at larger prize winnings.

But per Michigan’s current law, poker can only be played within the state as to not hurt the lottery, who believes they will lose business when poker players have the potential to win big jackpots through online platforms.

MI SB 991 has until the end of the year to pass. Should it receive approval, poker players in the state can play against others beginning in 2022, otherwise, they will have only in-state play offered to them. And if JCAR does not move quickly, all mobile and USA online gambling options for Michigan may see the launch occur on what was the original timeline, being sometime in early 2021.