Michigan might finally see the launch of legal online sports wagering and casino games either later this month or in early 2021 as state legislators appear willing to do away with the time left for assessing the proposed rules for the licensing process. The Michigan Gaming Control Board requested from legislators to waive what remains of the 15-day period granted to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) for the assessment.
JCAR members are scheduled to meet today at 8 am local time to discuss the drafted rules. If they comply with MGCB’s request, online sports wagering can go live this year according to Mary Kay Bean, spokesperson for the regulatory body.
Senator Peter Lucido, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, also approves the waiver. According to Sen. Lucido, delaying the launch any further makes no sense since the public hearing on the matter has already taken place.
Once the rules are officially approved, the MGCB will finally be able to start reviewing applications and issuing licenses to online operators. Several gambling businesses have already announced partnerships with their chosen gaming vendors. Established brands like FanDuel and DraftKings are among those who seek to penetrate the sports betting market in the state.
Retail Sports Wagers Will Be Taxed at 8.4%
The Great Lake State has been eagerly anticipating the arrival of a regulated online industry ever since Governor Gretchen Whitmer passed a bill that legalized virtual sports betting in December 2019. The MGCB submitted the draft rules for approval back in October 2020 with the hope of launching online wagering in the middle of November.
However, the plans were stalled because JCAR failed to take up the suggested rules before the legislators took their scheduled break this autumn. Under the provisions of the new law, retail sports wagers will be taxed at a rate of 8.4%. The levies imposed on online gaming will range from 20% to 28%, based on the amounts casinos generate from virtual gambling.
Terrestrial sportsbooks launched their operations in March but were forced to shut down soon after due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Sports events were either postponed or entirely canceled. The pandemic also disrupted the operations of landbased casinos in the Great Lake State, with all three commercial gaming venues being closed at the moment.
Two tribal casinos also decided to shut their doors to customers despite the fact tribal ventures are exempt from the state orders. Those that continue to operate are subject to severe restrictions. All of this has put a strain on Michigan’s gambling industry, with the state’s three commercial casinos reporting a 54.2% decline in their year-to-date revenue from slot machines and table games.
Betting Could Give the Gambling Industry a Needed Boost
Michigan operators generated $550 million in revenue during the first ten months of 2020 as opposed to the $1.2 billion reported for the same period in the previous year. This decrease translates into lower tax profits for the state.
The launch of online sports betting and gaming can give the local struggling industry a much needed financial boost. According to MGCB’s Executive Director, Mr. Richard Kalm, the launch of legal online betting opens a world of new opportunities both for consumers and gambling firms. Casino operators might benefit from increased foot traffic and more action on their landbased premises as was the case in other states.
Residents, on the other hand, will finally be able to punt safely with locally regulated online sportsbooks rather than taking unnecessary risks with offshore ones. For the time being, Michigan locals can bet on their smartphones and personal computers only on horse races as MGCB granted a permit for advance deposit wagering to TVG Network earlier this year.