Online gaming is set to launch soon in the state of Michigan. The state is preparing to launch online sports betting, casino games and poker. However, they must complete certain requirements before operations can get underway. During a recent meeting by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, Richard Kalm, the Executive Director, talked about how an FBI issue could slow the launch of iGaming in the state.
What’s the Hold Up?
According to Kalm, the online gaming statute of Michigan requires that the FBI approves fingerprinting licensing applicants. The Board has used the FBI to check fingerprints for many years and it was just recently that the FBI said the statute of the Board does not support the process.
When the Lawful Internet Gaming Act was passed into law in 2019, the language of the measure was amended as directed by the FBI. However, the FBI has not yet approved the new language. Without approval by the organization, the Board can access state records but not federal records when conducting background checks.
Kalm said that this stipulation may impact the timeline for launch. They are working with the FBI presently and they are also speaking with a group in another state that does the same approval. They hope to receive the go-ahead soon so gaming can begin.
The state still hopes to get going with online gambling services this year. The retail sportsbooks launched in the state back in March and the goal for online gambling is October. Now, it appears as though the timeline may have been pushed to early next year.
For the state, it would be a huge revenue boost if online gambling could get started sooner rather than later. With the Covid-19 pandemic shutting down casinos and keeping players indoors, online gambling would provide a form of entertainment that is safe and profitable for the state.
Casinos in Detroit were closed down in mid-March and were not reopened until just last week. The city and state lost a large portion of revenues that are much needed. With online gambling, new revenues would be generated that would help soften the blow.
As Michigan looks to launch its online gambling industry, the application process continues. Back in May, applications for suppliers were opened by the Board. In late June, operators and vendors could begin applying for licensing.
According to Kalm, 11 operators have applied along with 15 suppliers and eight vendors. When it comes to applying for licensing, fifteen operators are eligible, the three casinos in Detroit and 12 tribal operated venues.
Staff members of the board are working on applications by processing them from home. The Board has no plans to provide the identity of those who applied for licensing until approval is given. It still may be some time yet before we find out who is going to offer online gambling in the state and when they can get started. Hopefully any hurdles can be crossed and the industry can get started as quickly as possible.