Online sports betting in Michigan will wait until 2021

AP

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Sports bettors should be able to place wagers in person at casinos this spring but will wait until 2021 to do so online, Michigan's regulatory agency said Wednesday.

Mary Kay Bean, spokeswoman for the Michigan Gaming Control Board, gave the update about a month after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed laws legalizing internet gambling and sports betting. Bean estimated it will take a year to write and finalize rules so three commercial casinos in Detroit and 24 tribal casinos can obtain mobile sports bettor operating licenses.

Regulations for online gambling and daily fantasy sports sites will also take about a year.

Bean said the agency's goal is to authorize onsite sports wagering at the Detroit casinos in the spring. It was the first time regulators issued a timeline, after lawmakers had said they hoped betting could begin in time for the NCAA men's basketball tournament in March.

“We are at a very early stage of this process,” Bean said. “The agency must establish several sets of administrative rules, which pass through many levels of review. The timing of implementation depends not only on our agency but also on decisions other departments, agencies and the Legislature make along the way.”

In October, MGM Grand Detroit opened a $6 million sports bar that will add betting windows and self-service kiosks once regulators sign off.

“Timing will depend on how quickly we receive applications, can approve the casinos’ internal controls and are able to issue required licenses," Bean said.

She said the board is not involved with in-person sports betting at the tribal casinos across western and northern Michigan, but tribes can get a license for mobile sports wagering while platform providers and other suppliers working with the tribes will need a license.

Mike Bean is the CEO of Saginaw Chippewa Gaming Enterprises, which has two casinos in Mount Pleasant and a third in Standish. He said he anticipates moving “relatively quickly” to gain approval for onsite sports wagering from the tribe's gaming commission. Betting could begin in two to three months, he said, noting that the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant opened a new sports bar in 2018 knowing that sports betting was a possibility.

The plan is to offer sports wagering at all three locations, he said.

Mike Bean said the state's timeline tracks with what he had been hearing. He had been optimistic that the mobile option may be ready in six months but described the year time frame as typical.

“We view sports betting as another nice entity that will drive more people to our property,” he said, adding that online wagers will be an option for those who cannot travel there. “Our biggest question right now is when is it all going to be ready?”

Some gambling and technology executives have estimated that 90% of sports betting in the U.S. will be done over mobile phones or the internet in the next five to 10 years. In New Jersey, where online sportsbooks were launched in 2018, more than 80% of sports bets are placed over the internet.

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Follow David Eggert on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00

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