Michigan is still on course for online poker in 2020
Online Poker Report

Michigan Online Gambling Framework Almost Complete For Possible 2020 Launch

Michigan online gambling

The pieces are coming together for the pending launch of online gambling in Michigan.

State regulators this week began accepting applications from prospective operators and their vendors, covering licensure for online sports betting, casino gambling, and poker. Supplier applications previously opened on May 15.

In a press release issued Wednesday, the Michigan Gaming Control Board reiterated that launch is still on schedule for late 2020 or early 2021.

“Operators should file applications soon so we can conduct investigations and work with them on internal controls, technical standards, lab certifications and other requirements,” nudged Executive Director Richard S. Kalm. “It’s more likely all participants will be prepared and qualified for launch if the MGCB receives timely applications.”

Officials are meanwhile working through the rule-making process, which could be complete as soon as this fall.

Who’s ready for Michigan online gambling?

Despite the mention of 2021, the board tells OPR that a late-2020 launch is increasingly likely.

The shutdowns from coronavirus have taken their fair financial toll on Michigan and every other state that is partially reliant on tax revenue from casinos. Online gambling is coming, though, and it’s bringing along some of the biggest brands in the industry.

Each of the three Detroit casinos has its online identity pretty well established:

A number of partnerships have also fallen into place on the tribal side, including:

  • DraftKings — Bay Mills Indian Community
  • Kambi — Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
  • PointsBet — Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
  • Scientific Games — Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians
  • William Hill — Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians

A top-ten population, a huge sports footprint, and a competitive iGaming framework make Michigan an especially attractive market-in-waiting. Even sports-first operators like PointsBet may find themselves dabbling in casino-style MI online gambling.

Michigan online poker in the cards

As of right now, it seems clear there will be at least two good poker sites in Michigan.

The Stars Group was the very first operator to secure a foothold, partnering with the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians barely two weeks after the enabling legislation passed. TSG’s subsequent acquisition by Flutter has perhaps made things more complicated, but the mega-company now appears to have dual access to the market with Motor City and the Odawa.

That means a PokerStars Michigan launch is almost certainly in the cards one way or another.

The world’s largest poker operator is also active in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, though the two US sites remain segregated from each other for the time being. At this point, it’s not yet clear if multi-state poker will be an option in Michigan.

Partypoker also appears to have a path into the market via MGM Grand, perhaps forming a multi-state network of its own.

The 888/WSOP duo has not yet announced a local partner, and it’s not apparent it will. The option to link Michigan to its existing interstate poker pool would, of course, make such an opportunity more appealing.

Eric Ramsey
- Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.
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