More than a year after online gambling was legalized, the state of Michigan is finally set to open a branch of its industry. On Friday, January 22nd, online sports betting will go live for people over the age of 21 who are within state borders.
State regulators have authorized nine online operators and their land-based casino partners to take bets on Friday. These nine are in alphabetical order as follows:
• BetMGM (MGM Grand Detroit)
• DraftKings (Bay Mills Indian Community)
• FanDuel (MotorCity Casino)
• Golden Nugget online games (Keweenaw Bay Indian Community)
• Penn Sports Interactive / Barstool Sports Betting (Greektown Casino)
• Rush Street (Little River Band of the Ottawa Indians)
• TwinSpires (Hannahville Indian Community)
• William Hill (Grand Traverse Band of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians)
• Wynn (Sault Ste. Marie tribe of the Chippewa Indians)
Keep money in the state
Mike Raffensberger, FanDuel’s chief marketing officer, said that legal online sports betting protects customers from unregulated websites.
“In all fairness (sports betting) is a marketplace that existed before we were legal,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “It just happened in the black market and the gray market with offshore accounts, where you might and might not get your money.”
Of course, regulating online sports betting also means keeping the sports betting dollars – and associated tax dollars – in the state rather than seeing them cross-border or go to offshore locations. The tax on online sports betting is 8.4% of adjusted gross income. Detroit’s three commercial casinos – MotorCity, MGM Grand Detroit, and Greektown – must pay the city an additional 1.25%. Most of the tax revenue goes to Michigan’s School Aid Fund. Another $ 2 million will go to the state’s First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund.
Poker is still a mystery
In March, stationary sports betting went live in Michigan, just days before casinos and businesses across the state had to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Detroit’s casinos reopened on August 5th (tribal casinos are not required to follow the governor’s instructions, although some do), but closed again on November 18th. They reopened for the second time a month ago with reduced capacity and with strict health and safety measures in place.
As for online poker, all we can do is wait and see. Sports betting was a top priority as it is very profitable and extremely popular. Also, the state likely wanted to start online betting in time for the Super Bowl. Online casino gambling is almost certainly next on the list. However, poker is a mystery. There was no talk of when poker might start. It’s the least profitable and the most difficult to test because it requires safeguards against fraud and fraud, so regulators are unlikely to be in a rush to get it up and running.
When it finally starts, whether this year or not, Michigan players will eventually have the opportunity to play against people in other states. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill earlier this month allowing interstate online poker compacts. Multi-state poker won’t necessarily be available on day one, but it will be in the cards at some point.