It is Official: Michigan Online Gaming, Sports Betting to Begin on Friday

  • 9 top sportsbook operators anxiously anticipate new online service for Michigan Friday
  • Timing important due to NFL playoffs, COVID-19, & convenience for all within the state
  • Michigan should join Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Illinois as top online wagering states

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Finally ending four years of ongoing negotiations and vetoes from the government, Michigan bettors can finally place their first wagers ONLINE on Friday. The Michigan Gaming Control Board announced on Tuesday their approval to give nine casinos along with their platform operators the green light. More are expected to follow in the upcoming days.

Michigan will be the first new US state to go live online in 2021 and the 13th US state to have live, legal online/mobile sports betting.

Michigan legislators and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer legalized the first internet gambling and sports betting in December 2019, and regulators subsequently spent all of 2020 devising rules and ways to monitor and license the new platforms.

Michigan Sports Wagering by the Rules

The rule basics include a minimum age for online gambling and sports betting at 21. Those taking part in sports betting do not need to be Michigan residents but must be situated within the state’s borders when placing bets via a smartphone app or computer. Those from any other US state where online sports betting is not legal (ex: Florida or Ohio) could therefore use Michigan’s new betting apps if they do so within Michigan’s geolocation boundary.

The nine current platforms and their associated casino operators are:

  • FanDuel, for MotorCity Casino
  • BetMGM/Roar Digital, for MGM Grand Detroit
  • Penn Sports Interactive/ Barstool Sportsbook, for Greektown Casino
  • DraftKings Sportsbook, for the Bay Mills Indian Community
  • William Hill, for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
  • TwinSpires, for the Hannahville Indian Community
  • Golden Nugget Online Gaming, for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
  • Rush Street, for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
  • Wynn, for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

The tax rate and the tribal payment rate for internet sports betting for Michigan is 8.4%. The tax and payment rates paid by the casinos for general online gambling, not including sports will range from approximately 20% to 28%, based on adjusted gross receipts.

Grand Opening Excitement

In announcing these new objectives, Richard Kalm, Executive Director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board said days before the Friday launch will allow online platforms time to do testing and make necessary adjustments. Sportsbook operators including FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM have been advertising, allowing users to sign-up with bonus opportunities but cannot place bets until the official opening.

In referencing the anticipated launch on Friday, Kalm said in a statement:

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, The Michigan Gaming Control Board and the state’s commercial and tribal casinos will begin a new era Jan. 22 with the launch of regulated online gaming and sports betting. 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.

FanDuel’s Chief Marketing Officer Mike Raffensperger disclosed that about 90% of the company’s users in markets where sports betting is already allowed through both onsite and online use FanDuel through its mobile app. He said that legalized online sports betting is good because it brings the activity into the light of day and prevents people from getting outright cheated.

Raffensensperger added:

Frankly speaking, (sports betting) is a marketplace that existed prior to us launching legally. It just happened in (the) black market and the gray market with offshore accounts where maybe you’ll get your money out, maybe you won’t.

Retail (onsite) sports wagering began in Michigan in March 2020 but quickly went dark when the Detroit area casinos immediately closed amid the initial surge of COVID-19. Sports wagering books within casinos reopened in the summer, but then closed again on November 18 and have remained open at reduced capacity since Dec. 22.

The effects of COVID-19 upon US state’s overall sports wagering balance have been startling. In December, New Jersey reported 93.9% of their record near $1 billion dollar sports betting handle accomplished online.

Michigan has a population of 9.87 million, making it the third-largest US state with live, legal digital gaming, trailing only Illinois and Pennsylvania. The addition of adding online gaming should take place immediately, reflected in January and February’s report figures.

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Larry Gibbs

Expert on Sports Betting Industry

Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.

Email: [email protected]