Online gaming to launch Friday in Michigan

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Gaming Control Board has announced online gambling can start Friday, but West Michigan casinos will have to wait.

Nine casinos and their operators have been cleared to start taking bets at noon on Friday, including the three commercial casinos in Detroit. The board says some casinos and platforms still need to run more testing and should be cleared in the coming days. It said it will be in close contact with organizations to make any changes as needed.

“We want the public to have confidence when they place wagers, and our agency has required the providers to prove they meet Michigan’s standards, which are designed to protect the participants,” Richard Kalm, the executive director of the MGCB, said in a Tuesday statement.

Lawmakers had been working for years to legalize sports gambling and online gaming, but it never really took hold until 2019. State Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo Township, was the key force behind it, drafting legislation three different times and working to get support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Iden told News 8 in 2018 that his bills would provide a legal way for people to do what many were already doing outside of the law, institute regulation and create a tax revenue stream for the state.

“This creates a sort of sanctity of the game, I like to call it, and players who play regularly know that they want their money protected and they want to get paid when they win,” Iden said. “I mean, that’s the benefit of being able to structure it so that it’s properly regulated. In addition to the tax revenue for the state of Michigan, you will protect and ensure that people are 21, (and) that if there’s a problem gambling issue, people aren’t going overboard.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, signed the bills into law in December 2019. Sports gambling launched last March, but online gaming required its own set of rules and licenses. Those were approved by the state last month and the Gaming Control Board has been working with Michigan casinos and their platforms to get lined up.

Experts forecast online gambling will generate more than $90 million in revenue in its first year. An 8.4% tax will be levied against casinos running it.

For tax revenue collected from the commercial casinos — MGM Grand Detroit, Motor City and Greektown — nearly a third will go to the city of Detroit, about 5% will go to the Michigan Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund and nearly two thirds will go to the state Internet Sports Betting Fund or the state Internet Gaming Fund.

For tribal casinos, 90% of sports betting payments go to the Internet Sports Betting Fund and 10% to the Michigan Strategic Fund. Twenty percent of internet gaming tax revenue will go to local jurisdictions, 70% to the state Internet Gaming Fund and 10% to the Michigan Strategic Fund.

“Michigan residents love sports and, judging by inquiries we’ve received, eagerly anticipate using mobile devices to place bets through the commercial and tribal casinos,” Kalm said in a release. “Online gaming and sports betting will provide the casinos with new ways to engage with customers while the state and local communities will benefit from taxes and payments on wagering revenue.”

So far, 15 casinos and their vendors have been granted their provisional licenses. The board continues to work with the other ones, but some casinos will still likely be waiting for their licenses on opening day.

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